By Piya Sinha-Roy and Jill Serjeant
Authorities in Minnesota were conducting an autopsy on Friday on US music superstar Prince as distraught fans mourned the influential and genre-busting performer who was found dead in his home a day earlier at the age of 57.
It could be weeks before full results are in and the cause of death is established and made public, officials said.
The death of the eccentric and intensely private artist, whose hits included “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss,” shocked fans around the world, prompting outpourings of grief from devotees and glowing tributes by fellow musicians.
Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was found unresponsive on Thursday morning in an elevator at the Paisley Park Studios complex where he lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, according to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said it was investigating the circumstances of his death, and Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET, 2000 GMT).
Olson’s spokesman cautioned, however, that the investigation was ongoing and that the sheriff may be unable to answer the most pressing questions.
The local medical examiner’s office began carrying out a post-mortem examination on Friday morning, but said its results could be some time coming.
“As part of a complete exam, relevant information regarding Mr. Nelson’s medical and social history will be gathered. Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration,” the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
No information will be released until all results have been obtained, it added. “Gathering the results will take several days and the results of a full toxicology scan could likely take weeks,” the statement said.
The autopsy was being conducted by the office’s chief medical examiner, forensic pathologist A. Quinn Strobl.
DANCING TO THE TUNE OF GRIEF
Prince‘s music blended styles including rock, jazz, funk, disco and R&B, and it won him seven Grammy Awards as well as an Oscar. He had been on a US tour as recently as last week.
But he was briefly hospitalised a week ago after his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, suffering from what his representative told celebrity news website TMZ was flu.
Nevertheless, the star hosted a party at Paisley Park last Saturday night at which one attendee said Prince played two tunes on a piano, and then introduced fans to his doctor.
After news of his death, up to a thousand of his fans danced the night away at the packed First Avenue club where “Purple Rain” was filmed in downtown Minneapolis.
Prince first found fame in the late 1970s before becoming one of the most inventive forces in American pop music.
As well as singing and songwriting, he played multiple instruments including guitar, keyboards and drums. A Jehovah’s Witness and a strict vegan, he sold more than 100 million records and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
During his life, he was known as fiercely determined to protect his intellectual property. How well others might profit from his legacy hinges on how astute he was about arranging for control of his music after death. Twice divorced with no surviving children, he apparently lacked any immediately identifiable heirs.
News of his death sparked an immediate bump in online sales of his music, with nine of the top 10-selling albums on iTunes belonging to Prince.