'Person is dead here': 911 call from Prince home reveals panic, shock
Prince, a prodigy, a provocateur and a complete game-changer in popular music, died Thursday at his Paisley Park compound in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen. He was 57.
Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson confirmed Thursday afternoon that deputies and medics were dispatched to Paisley Park around 9:43 a.m. CT, where they found the singer unresponsive in an elevator. Their attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. The department's statement added that it is still investigating the death with assistance from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.
"It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer Prince Rogers Nelson has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57," his publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, wrote in a statement. She did not elaborate on the cause of his death.
A transcript of the 9-1-1 call from Prince's Paisley Park estate illustrates the tension after the body was found.
"We have someone who is unconscious," says an unidentified male. "We're at Prince's house."
After questioning from dispatcher Emily Colestock, the unidentified male tries to find an address.
"The person is dead here," the male says. "And the people are just distraught."
Colestock asks, "OK, do we know how the person died?"
"I don't know, I don't know," the unidentified male says.
Later, an ambulance dispatcher named Shirley is heard telling dispatcher Kayley McGarry that she can " ... cancel anybody going to Audubon," referring to Prince's street. "Confirmed DOA."
Prince had been briefly hospitalized last Friday after his plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Illinois' Quad City International Airport. Noel-Schure told USA TODAY that he had been struggling with the flu.
President Obama, for whom Prince was a White House guest last year, said he and his wife “joined millions of fans from around the world” in mourning Prince’s sudden death. “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly,” Obama said in a statement. “ ‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative.”
Prince, a 2004 Rock Hall of Fame inductee, won seven Grammy Awards. He also won a best-original-song Oscar for his 1984 film Purple Rain. His long list of hit songs includes 1999, Little Red Corvette,When Doves Cry, Let's Go Crazy and Kiss.
The 5-foot-2 Minneapolis native, born Prince Rogers Nelson, broke through in the late 1970s and never forgot where he came from. He continued to live and work there for the rest of his life. Former Governor Jesse Ventura called his death a "huge loss for Minnesota."
Prince also gave a leg-up to other musicians such as Sheila E. He also wrote for other performers, including Sinead O'Connor (Nothing Compares 2 U) Sheena Easton (Sugar Walls) and the Bangles (Manic Monday).
"Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape. Prince was an original who influenced so many, and his legacy will live on forever," Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in a statement.
MTV, which came of age alongside the singer, called Prince "a once-in-a-lifetime artist who transcended every medium and genre he touched and created music with a passion and individuality that inspired multiple generations."
His influence wasn't always intentional.
Prince is partially responsible for the parental advisory warnings on album covers. In the late 1980s, Tipper Gore, then the wife of politician Al Gore, reportedly co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center after she heard his explicit single Darling Nikki.
Prince famously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol when contract renegotiations with his record label, Warner Bros., broke down in 1993. Even after his contract was over and he resumed using his name, he was still routinely referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" and "TAFKAP."
Prince remained outspoken until the end, recording Baltimore, a tribute to Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody, in 2015.
He was also a devout Jehovah's Witness, having converted from the Seventh Day Adventist Church in 2001, not that he labeled it as such. "I don’t see it really as a conversion,” he told talk-show host Tavis Smiley in a 2013 interview. “More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix.”
He frequently "freaked out" fans when he knocked on doors as part of its proselytization practice. While it's not known if he managed to win any new converts, he probably got past the front door more often than most of his fellow evangelists.
The notoriously private singer was married twice. He wed backup singer Mayte Garcia in 1996. That year, they lost their only child, Boy Gregory, a week after his birth to a skull defect. Their marriage was annulled two years later. He was also married to Manuela Testolini from 2001-2006. That union did not produce any children.
Garcia, who claims to be the inspiration for his song The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, shed a little light on their time together. In a 2015 interview with The Daily Mirror, she summed up their marriage as "bizarre but wonderful." She also said that she has discouraged all of her partners since Prince from writing songs or poems for her.
"I'm like, 'Seriously, don't even go there. You can't compete!'"
Contributing: The Associated Press