His influential, genre-defying music blended jazz, funk, R&B,
disco and rock, winning seven Grammy Awards and an Oscar.
Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park
Studios compound, which included his home, in the Minneapolis suburb
of Chanhassen, according to the Carver County Sheriff's Office.
In a transcript of a 911 call made from the complex and released by
the sheriff's office, an unidentified male initially reported that
someone was dead at the home, later identifying that victim as
The sheriff's office said it was investigating the circumstances.
The local medical examiner's office said in a tweet that an autopsy
had been scheduled for Friday.
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger hailed his fellow singer and
musician as "revolutionary" and one of the most unique and exciting
artists of the last 30 years. Prince was an original lyricist and a
"startling" guitar player, he added.
"His talent was limitless," Jagger wrote on Twitter.
President Barack Obama called Prince "one of the most gifted and
prolific musicians of our time," and said few had influenced "the
sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly."
Distraught devotees gathered outside the Paisley Park compound in
"His music made the hair on your arms stand up," said one, Kristina
Dudziak, 44. "It felt like he was making love to his guitar. ...
It's a sad day," she added, starting to sob.
Sheila E., a singer and percussionist who worked closely with Prince
in the 1980s, wrote on Twitter: "My heart is broken. There are no
words. I love you!"
The performer's death was the most notable passing of a music giant
since rock star David Bowie died of cancer at 69 on Jan. 10.
INVENTIVE AND ECCENTRIC
Prince, whose hit songs also included "Let's Go Crazy," "I Would Die
4 U," "Raspberry Beret," "Little Red Corvette" and "Kiss," was on a
U.S. tour as recently as last week.
Last Friday, he was briefly hospitalized with what his
representative told celebrity news website TMZ was the flu after his
plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois.
The representative said Prince had performed in Atlanta despite not
feeling well and felt worse after boarding the plane back to
Minnesota, the website reported.
But over the weekend, the musician hosted a party at Paisley Park.
One attendee, 26-year-old Jamie Reimann, said Prince appeared after
midnight Saturday and played two tunes on a piano in what would turn
out to be his final performance.
"It was just five or six minutes. He introduced his doctor ... and
asked fans to give him a round of applause and said the doctor was
helping him feel better," Reimann said.
"He (Prince) looked fine, but his voice sounded like he might have
had a cold or something. He didn't look sickly."
Prince first found fame in the late 1970s. Over the next three
decades, he became known as one of the most inventive and eccentric
forces in American pop music.
Often making a statement with bold fashion choices, the diminutive,
5-feet 2-inch-tall (1.57-meter) star sometimes appeared on stage
sporting ruffled shirts and tight pants or elaborate costumes,
including chain mail covering his face, a shimmery orange tunic with
a cane, or bikini briefs.
"He was a legend," said another fan, Karen Menardy, 45, weeping
outside New York City's storied Apollo Theater, where some
passers-by danced in the street as Prince songs played on a portable
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Outside the First Avenue nightclub in downtown Minneapolis, devotees
placed photographs of the artist, a guitar and at least two dozen
bouquets of flowers, many of them purple. "We love you Prince!" read
a sign attached to one of the bouquets.
Calling Prince a "once-in-a-lifetime artist," music TV channel MTV
changed its logo to purple in his honor, and Twitter lit up with
reaction from stunned friends and fans.
He was regarded as a perfectionist who from 1993 to 2000 changed his
name to an unpronounceable symbol in an apparent protest against his
record label at the time. For a while, he was dubbed "The Artist
Formerly Known as Prince."
An intensely private person, Prince sold more than 100 million
records. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
2004, and his most recent album, "HITnRUN: Phase Two" was released
in December 2015.
Prince became a Jehovah's Witness about 15 years ago, and was a
strict vegan. In 2009, he told PBS television about being born an
epileptic and suffering seizures as a child.
He also said he was teased in school, and that "early in my career I
tried to compensate by being as flashy as I could and as noisy as I
Prince's Oscar was for best original song score for "Purple Rain,"
the 1984 movie in which he also starred. In 2007, he played the
Super Bowl in one of the most celebrated such performances.
While he was more accustomed to sold-out arenas, two years ago
Prince played perhaps his most intimate gig in the living room of
British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas' London home with his
band, 3rdeyegirl, Billboard said.
"We'll work our way up, if people like us, to bigger venues," Prince
His music was marked by sexually charged lyrics and explosive live
performances, while his private life was marked by a string of
romances linking him with the likes of Madonna and actresses Kim
Basinger and Carmen Electra.
Prince was married twice: to his backup singer, Mayte Garcia, in
1996 and then to Manuela Testolini in 2001. Both marriages ended in
divorce, and a son he had with Garcia died a week after birth in
"I loved him then, I love him now and will love him eternally,"
Garcia told People magazine. "He's with our son now."
Born in Minneapolis as Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, he is
said to have written his first song at age 7. As well as singing and
writing, he played multiple instruments, including guitar, keyboards
In a 1998 interview with Reuters, Prince said he ignored critics and
focused on a quest for great music. "I just do what I feel I'm
supposed to do," he said
(Additional reporting by Todd Melby in Chanhassen, Frank McGurty,
Amy Tennery and Gina Cherelus in New York and Alex Dobuzinskis and
Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by
Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)
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