Speculation over Prince's death baffles those who say the artist led a clean life | Music | The Guardian
Sat, 23 Apr 2016 20:50
A fan visits a memorial created outside Paisley Park, the home and studio of Prince, on Saturday in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Healthy in his habits, tireless at work and an energetic creator who friends said avoided alcohol and drugs, Prince's death has left investigators piecing together his final hours and mourners grappling with how the musician's life could have come to such a sudden end.
An autopsy was conducted Friday and the body of the musical legend was released to his family, but authorities said it could be weeks before results, pending the completion of a toxicology analysis.
Carver County sheriff Jim Olson said investigators found no indication of suicide, and there were no immediate signs of trauma. Investigators will review Prince's medical history, including previous hospitalization and pharmaceutical records, Olson said.
Related:The rearview mirror rehinged: how Prince's early years formed his legend
Speculation surrounding Prince's death has centered on a sudden cancellation of shows and a medical emergency on Prince's private jet last week, en route to Minneapolis. An unconfirmed report from celebrity news site TMZ said the musician overdosed on a painkiller, prompting the flight's diversion just an hour outside of his hometown. Olson and a public information officer for the medical examiner declined to comment on the incident.
New details emerged on Friday, however, about the hours leading up to the discovery of Prince's body in an elevator shaft at Paisley Park, his residential compound located in the city of Chanhassen, about 20 miles from Minneapolis.
The last time Prince was seen alive was around 8pm Wednesday, when he was dropped off at Paisley Park by an acquaintance, Olson said. Prince is believed to have been alone throughout the night, he added. When Paisley Park staffers couldn't contact him early on Thursday, they went to the compound and found him unresponsive in an elevator on the first floor.
An unidentified male called 911 around 9.43am. ''Yes,'' the man said, ''it's Prince.''
First responders attempted CPR but failed, and Olson said his deputies are equipped with Narcan, an opiate antidote, but it was not used to try to revive Prince, who was pronounced dead at 10.07am.
For those who caught a glimpse of Prince in recent days, his unexpected death was made even more jarring. On Tuesday, he attended a show at the Dakota jazz club in Minneapolis, a venue he frequented enough to have a private table on the second floor, in a section that would be cordoned off by a curtain '' a testament to his assiduous privacy.
Related:The A to Z of Prince
''He was one of our era's greatest musical artists, perhaps the greatest,'' said Dakota owner Lowell Pickett. ''He was an international musical treasure whose combined talents only come along in many years.''
Pickett said he recently told Prince how overjoyed he was to discover his poignant cover of a Joni Mitchell song, A Case of You. ''I told him '... how much we loved finding this song at home this winter and how beautiful it was,'' Pickett told the Guardian. ''He said it was so important to him to do justice to Joni Mitchell.''
Dakota employees who saw Prince at the show on Tuesday said nothing appeared out of the ordinary with the superstar. He came and went as he always had before: through a side door and up the stairs to his table. On Thursday, a placard that read ''Rest In Peace Prince'' was placed on that table along with a purple orchid.
Prince's regular table at Dakota jazz Club, in Minneapolis, was adorned with roses to commemorate his death. Photograph: Ryan Felton for the GuardianPrince had previously said he struggled with epilepsy as a child. In recent years, he dealt with hip problems that reportedly stemmed from a performance. Prince was a committed vegan, and his cousin Chazz Smith said this week that he avoided alcohol and drugs throughout his life.
''I can tell you this: what I know is that he was perfectly healthy,'' Smith told the Associated Press.
Heather McElhatton, a journalist who worked as a set director for Paisley Park video shoots during the 1990s, said Prince had ''limitless energy'' and that she never saw him drink or do drugs.
''He could shoot for two days straight, without getting tired, it seems,'' she said. ''I never saw him eat, like physically eat, anything in 10 years '... never saw him drink.''
In and around his hometown, the music icon was spotted numerous times in public only a day after the emergency flight landing. Last Saturday, Prince stopped by a record store in Minneapolis called Electric Fetus, a shop he highlighted in his last tweet on Monday.
Related:Prince: new details of plane emergency as fans mourn artist
Bob Fuchs, the store's manager, said Prince was dressed head to toe in black and ''looked normal to me''. He shopped for about 15-20 minutes and purchased about a half dozen CDs, Fuchs said, adding that he shook the musician's hand and told him ''thank you for your support''. Prince smiled back: ''You're welcome.''
''He was dressed really nice,'' Fuchs said. ''I wouldn't have guessed anything was wrong.
''It was pretty low key,'' he continued. ''None of us would've suspected anything based on the interaction we had.''
That afternoon, Prince was spotted riding his bike near a suburban strip mall outside of Paisley Park. In a salon there Julie Reid, 47, was getting a haircut when he rode by. She rushed out the door in hair foils. Prince waved.
Next door, he waited outside for a friend to order a drink from Caribou Coffee, employees said. In perhaps one of his few indulgences, Prince occasionally ordered a coffee from the shop, according to a barista, Alya Al-Hilwani. He preferred a blend: a chocolate cooler, no whipped cream.
Reid said she later posted a photo of him casually riding the bike on Facebook, and wrote: ''Prince sighting?''
''Everyone was like: 'Wait, isn't he sick?''' she said. ''Well, clearly he was feeling better.''
Prince's former drug dealer reveals extent of his addiction | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 24 Apr 2016 13:27
Prince's former drug dealer has revealed the full extent of the late-star's secret drug addiction - telling how the superstar was hooked on powerful opiates for over 25 years.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Online, the performer's long-time dealer - who asked to be named only as Doctor D - revealed the singer would spend up to $40,000 a time on six-month supplies of Dilaudid pills and Fentanyl patches - both highly addictive opioid pain killers.
Prince, who was found dead on Thursday at his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was secretly cremated in an intimate ceremony at a nondescript funeral home in Minneapolis shortly after an autopsy was completed on Friday, Radar reports.
Prince's sister Tyka Nelson and another family member reportedly spent a few minutes saying goodbye at the First Memorial Waterston Chapel before the musician was cremated.
His death came just days after sources claimed he overdosed on the opiate Percocet.
Doctor D said the musician, who he described as 'majorly addicted', regularly bought drugs from him between 1984 and 2008.
The dealer, often to the stars, said Prince suffered crippling stage fright and could not get on stage and perform without the drugs - but had a phobia of doctors so could not obtain a prescription legally.
Tragically, Doctor D suggests it could have been a physician that unknowingly contributed to Prince's death - by prescribing strong pain killers to the singer for his hip condition without knowing the extent of his secret opiate addiction.
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Prince's former drug dealer (above) has revealed the full extent of the late-star's secret drug addiction - telling how the superstar was hooked on powerful opiates for over 25 years
The dealer said Prince (in 2006, above) suffered crippling stage fright and could not get on stage and perform without the drugs
He said: 'I first met Prince in 1984 while he was filming the movie Purple Rain and he was already majorly addicted to opiates - I didn't hook him on drugs he was already a really heavy user.
'In the beginning he would buy speed as well as Dilaudid.
'I would sell him black beauties which were a black pill and cross tops which were also speed pills.
'He would use that as a counter balance to get back up again from taking opiates.
'That lasted for a couple of years then he would just buy Dilaudid, which is a heroin based opiate. It is highly addictive.
'As far as I knew he never took heroin - as that would leave you out of it for days whereas Dilaudid gives you an energy buzz as well as making you feel relaxed - so he preferred it.
'He needed the drugs because he was so nervous - he could be nervous in a room with just five people in it.
'He was scared to go out in public, he was scared to talk to people and didn't like to go on stage - he had the worst case of stage fright I'd ever seen.
'A lot of performers rely on drugs to make them feel confident on stage but he was by far the worse.
'Plus he was always paranoid about doctors so he wouldn't ask them for help - he had a phobia of them.
'I was surprised when I heard he had been picking up prescriptions before he died.'
Tyka's husband Maurice Phillips (above), who remained outside duering some of the cremation ceremony, said Prince'sister was 'saying her final goodbye' to her brother
The performer's long-time dealer - who asked to be named only as Doctor D - revealed the singer would spend up to $40,000 a time on six-month supplies of Dilaudid pills and Fentanyl patches
Doctor D revealed the singer would spend up to $40,000 a time on six-month supplies of Dilaudid pills (right) and Fentanyl patches (left)
Prince made several trips to a Walgreens pharmacy in the days before he died and was even photographed outside the store hours before he was pronounced dead.
It is not known whether he was picking up Percocet or any other prescription. And according to sources, Prince was treated by doctors for a Percocet overdose just six days before he died.
The 57-year-old's private plane had to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, on April 15, so he could be rushed to hospital.
Doctors there had to administer a 'save shot' - an emergency injection usually administered in dire circumstances to drug overdose victims, TMZ reported.
An autopsy was conducted on Friday and Prince's body was released to his family. However, authorities said it could be weeks before the cause of death is released.
Meanwhile, an expert on Saturday, said his death is likely to have been the result of a drug overdose.
Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist who is not linked to the case, told NBC's TODAY: 'I would give overwhelming odds that, tragically, this is a drug death.'
He said: 'When you rule out foul play, when there is no history of any kind of significant disease, when you rule out any kind of intervention, anything of an environmental nature, you come down to an autopsy that is essentially negative and that probably means drugs.'
Wecht said the emergency landing of Prince's private jet lends further merit to the idea that his death was due to drugs.
'I cannot think of any medical or pathological condition that fits that kind of scenario, with incredible ups and downs, other than drugs,' he added.
Prince bought extra large supplies before his famous performances at the Miami Superbowl (above) in 2007 and before his 2008 Coachella appearance, his former drug dealer said
Doctor D - who has built up a vast knowledge of opioid pain killers over the years - believes that if indeed Prince was being prescribed Percocet by doctors - the combination of Tylenol and opiates in the drug may have killed him.
'If Prince was just taking Dilaudid he would still be alive,' he said.
'It has less side effects than other opiate drugs such as Percocet but doctors don't like to prescribe it because it's one of the heaviest drugs.
'The problem with Percocet is that it is an opiate mixed with Tylenol - but he would have been taking much more than the recommended dose because he had developed a tolerance to opiates over the years.
'When you take that much Tylenol it can cause major problems - especially with your kidneys.
'But doctors would have freaked out if they knew the extent of Prince's drug problem and wouldn't know what to do.
In one of the last pictures of Prince (above), taken three days before his death, he is seen riding his bike on his Paisley Park estate
'He self medicated for years and was fine - so it wouldn't have been the opiates that killed him but the Tylenol.
'So perversely the doctors who thought they were helping him may have hurt him by prescribing Percocet.
'Also if they did have to give him a save shot when he overdosed like everybody is saying - that removes all traces of drugs from your system so he would have started to go into withdrawal and would have had to take a lot of drugs to feel okay again - which also could have killed him.
'You can't just stop taking these drugs when you have taken them for so long.
'But without knowing his drug history doctors wouldn't have known that.
'It explains why he was spotted looking nervous and pacing around at the pharmacy in the week before his death.'
Doctor D, originally from Los Angeles but now based in the Coachella Valley area, California, first met Prince while working as part of the road crew at a concert.
He soon became his dealer of choice whenever he was in the Los Angeles area.
Prince would hire him to work backstage at gigs so he could have a constant supply of drugs without arousing any suspicion from those around him.
Doctor D said he watched him develop a major tolerance to the drugs over the years - regularly taking two to three times the recommended dose.
He also began to use patches of Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 40 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
The patches are worn like nicotine patches and provide a 72 hour constant release of the drug through the skin into the blood stream.
'He would wear the patch as well as taking the Dilaudid - so it's the equivalent of smoking while you have a nicotine patch on,' Doctor D explained.
'DRUG STORE HEROIN': ELVIS WAS ALSO LINKED TO DILAUDIDPrescription drug addict Elvis Presley was another superstar linked to Dilaudid after his death.
The opiate, often nicknamed 'drug store heroin' and officially known as hydromorphone, was Elvis' favorite drug.
Dilaudid, said to be two to eight times more potent than morphine, was used by The King to boost his energy levels before a performance.
While the narcotic was not found among the many drugs discovered in Elvis' system after he died, he was quoted in the book 'Elvis: The Final Years' as telling the wife of Red West, a member of his inner circle, 'I've tried them all, honey, and believe me, Dilaudid is the best.'
Elvis Presley died on 16 August, 1977. At the time of his death, he was suffering from glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage and an enlarged colon.
All of these ailments were aggravated, if not caused, by drug abuse.
'It's like having a constant supply of drugs - they sell for about $200-300 per patch.
'They come in boxes of five and I would sell Prince 20 boxes at a time.
'You can also smoke them but I only saw him do that once.
'You smoke it similar to a crack pipe or something like that - you burn the patch and suck the fumes through a straw.
'It gives you an instant, intense hit.
'He'd buy large supplies of both drugs - I think the most he ever spent was around $40,000 at one time.
'I'd say in general his habit was costing him about $2-300 a day but that didn't matter to him as he had plenty of money - he never ran out.'
Doctor D said apart from the one time he saw him smoke a Fentanyl patch, Prince's drug use was limited to popping pills, which enabled him to keep his drug use out of the public eye.
'He was always a pill man - that's why nobody ever saw him do drugs,' he said.
'He never smoked or shot up, or snorted cocaine.
'He was always functional too - I never saw him out of it or strung out because I always provided him with what he needed and he would buy in bulk so he was always prepared.
'At the time I was dealing other drugs too but he never asked for anything else.
'He wasn't really a party guy either, he was doing these drugs so he could feel at ease around people.
A few people were seen embracing emotionally as they met at Paisley Park in Minnesota, on Saturday
The driver of Prince's Escalade where he was pictured at a Walgreens left the house wearing smart clothes
Food and drink is being delivered to Prince's Paisley Park home where various people are arriving
'When I knew him he didn't have any health problems that I knew about - he was taking the drugs because he needed them to cope not because he was in pain.
'In fact he always seemed very healthy - he didn't drink as far as I know and he would always eat salads.
'One time he was eating a salad and a skinless chicken breast with no dressing and I commented about how healthy he was.
'He turned to me and said, 'If I didn't watch my food I probably wouldn't last that long'. I think it was his way of counteracting all the drugs he was taking.'
Prince's drug use would increase around stressful times of his life - such as around big shows or when his fame would rise or plummet, according to Doctor D.
He bought extra large supplies before his famous performances at the Miami Superbowl in 2007 and before his 2008 Coachella appearance.
'I remember when he was filming Purple Rain he was buying a lot of drugs - I think it was nerve wracking for him to have to perform in front of cameras and people every day so he needed the drugs,' Doctor D revealed.
'It was an exciting time for him he was on top of the world - he was like God.
'But as that fame increased the less at ease he was with people and the more he needed drugs.
'Then at other times when his fame lessened - he'd turn to drugs too.
Doctor D last saw Prince in 2008 before his Coachella performance (above) - and sold him a six month supply of drugs
'It's like he was afraid of the fame but then when it was gone he'd miss it and crave it.
'He would always buy a lot of drugs around his big shows - like when he played the Superbowl in Miami in 2007 he came to see me right before.
'He actually wanted to put me on payroll to work for him - so he could get what he wanted whenever he wanted - but I said no because I didn't want to go out to Miami.
'I sold him a six month supply and he used a lot of it just to get out on stage.
'It was the biggest show he ever did and it freaked him out - not only was he playing to thousands in the stadium but millions live on TV. He was nervous.'
Doctor D said that the religious star - who converted to the Jehovah's Witness faith in 2001 - would often talk about God during their meetings.
He would even try to convert the drug dealer and invited him to religious gatherings.
'We were never close friends - I was his drug dealer that's it,' Doctor D said.
'We got along well he was a nice guy - I wouldn't say anything bad about him.
'He never confided in me about his love life or anything but he often used to preach about God to me.
'Maybe it was a form of guilt - I think he felt guilty he was buying drugs from a drug dealer so he'd start conversing about God and the Spirit.
'He'd say, 'You know there's only one God and we're all here for a reason - to serve God.'
'And he'd say, 'We have to be good people it's important that we try to be good people,' he had a thing about being a good person.
'He asked me to go to meetings with him - I'm not sure exactly what kind of meetings they were - but it was some kind of religious thing.
'You learn when you're selling drugs to someone just to listen and go along with them.
'I'd pretend I'd go to the meeting and then next time I saw him I'd just be like 'oh no sorry I couldn't make it.
'That's all he really talked about.'
A fan visits a memorial outside Paisley Park, Prince's home and studio, in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on Saturday
Mementos left by fans are attached to the fence which surrounds Paisley Park. Prince was pronounced dead shortly after being found unresponsive on April 21
Doctor D also said the drugs he supplied transformed Prince's personality.
'He didn't have much of a personality off the stage to be honest. Like a lot of these stars he needed the drugs to get the personality.
'He'd go from boring, mellow, nothing special and suddenly be transformed into this amazing performer once he had the drugs.'
Doctor D, who declined to answer when asked if he was still a drug dealer and took precautions not to be identified, last saw Prince in 2008 before his Coachella performance - and sold him a six month supply of drugs.
After that the star, who was then living in Minnesota, rarely came back to California and Doctor D, never heard from him again.
'He was really nervous before the Coachella show,' he recalled.
'It was a big deal at the time but I think it was too much for him because he ended up canceling some other shows after that.
'I had to give him a lot before that performance - he took more than I'd ever seen him take before.
'I sold him a six month supply at that festival - maybe even more.
'At that point in his life he just did not want to get on stage - he was nervous.
'But watching the show - you'd never know. It was great, the songs were amazing, he looked good.
'I never heard from him after that - I don't think he came back to the area much.
'He was such a heavy drug user he must have got another drug dealer up in Minnesota.'