Ill health forced Prince to cancel a surprise set of shows in St Louis a few days before he was found dead at his studio complex in Minneapolis, a music promoter has said, as mourning continued worldwide for the pop star.
Authorities in his Minnesota hometown gave scant details as they confirmed a postmortem examination had taken place on Friday and the remains of the hugely influential and prolific musician were being handed over to family.
But a picture began to form of apparent health issues leading up to the discovery of the 57-year-old unconscious in an elevator at his studio and residence. According to a transcript of a 911 emergency call made at 9.43am on Thursday, an unidentified male caller said he needed an ambulance and that a man was not responding. “Yes, it’s Prince,” he said.
Authorities have said Prince was unresponsive when they arrived at the scene, did not respond to CPR and was pronounced dead soon afterwards.
Fans, fellow artists and public figures worldwide have continued to mourn the sudden loss of the 57-year-old superstar.
Meanwhile, questions surrounding the circumstances of his death zeroed in on suggestions that he may have become gravely ill but declined a lengthy stay in hospital.
More details emerged on Friday of how a medical emergency on board Prince’s private jet led to an unscheduled landing a few days before his death.
According to flight records Prince’s plane descended 45,000 feet in 17 minutes to land at the Quad City international airport in Moline, Illinois, at a point when it had been 48 minutes away from its scheduled destination of Minneapolis.
The airport confirmed that a private plane made an unscheduled landing around 1.35am local time on 15 April, and a person with a medical emergency was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment. The flight left again for Minneapolis 10 hours later.
On Friday, promoter Steve Litman from the Fox Theatre in St Louis said he had been working for weeks to set up two pop-up shows by Prince on 18 April but they were called off the day before the plane drama.
Litman said tickets had been due to go on sale 15 April but Prince’s representatives told him late on 14 April that the star needed to back out because of concerns he might have to cancel due to illness.
Prince had performed two concerts in Atlanta on 14 April to make up for gigs that he had cancelled a week earlier citing the flu.
Two days later Prince hosted a dance party at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota.
The Midwest medical examiner’s office completed an autopsy on Prince’s body on Friday and said it would release the body to the family. There were no immediate details about the cause of his death, which the coroner said could take some time to determine.
Carver county sheriff Jim Olson repeatedly said he could not disclose much information so soon. “To you, Prince was a celebrity,” he said. “To us, he’s a community member and a good neighbour.”
Law enforcement officials offered few details of the investigation but shed some new light on how police found the music legend early on Thursday.
The last time Prince was seen alive was around 8pm on Wednesday, when he was dropped off at Paisley Park, Olson said. There were no “obvious signs” of trauma visible on Prince’s body when it was discovered around 9.40am on Thursday, he added.
Three people were present at the home when emergency personnel arrived half an hour later. “CPR was immediately started,” Olson said, “but was unsuccessful.”
Prince was pronounced dead at 10.07am.
The sheriff, whose deputies were first responders to Prince’s studio, said his officers carried a medication that could be given to someone suffering a drug overdose but did not use it in this case.
Olson said his officers had been carrying the narcotic antidote Narcan for the past two years as a matter of policy after being granted permission by Minnesota lawmakers.
Olson did not answer questions about whether Prince succumbed to a drug overdose, citing the investigation. He said police had drawn no final conclusions about whether suicide or foul play was involved but “we have no reason to believe that.”
The sheriff’s office had not responded to any other calls over the last year from Paisley Park, Olson said. Investigators planned to gather Prince’s medical records and speak to “people who are close to him”, he added.