MINNESOTA -- The artist known as Prince has died. He was 57.
"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," said his publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure.
Prince was found unresponsive Thursday morning, April 21st inside an elevator at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Paramedics tried to perform CPR but were unable to revive him, the sheriff said. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m., less than 30 minutes after sheriff's deputies responded to a medical call at the scene, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death, Olson said. An autopsy will be performed by the Midwest regional medical examiner.
Earlier Thursday, police said they were investigating a death at the Paisley Park studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Word of his death sparked a massive outpouring of grief on social media, outside his famed studios and even from the White House.
Fans rushed to record stores to pick up albums and other Prince memorabilia. Some said the icon's death "is what it sounds like when doves cry," a reference to his monster hit from 1984.
"As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader and an electrifying performer," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement. " 'A strong spirit transcends rules,' Prince once said -- and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative."
Kaleena Zanders cried in the car as she drove to Amoeba Music in Los Angeles on Thursday. She spent $173 on Prince-related items at the store, including a vinyl edition of Prince's iconic album "Purple Rain."
"Prince means the future, because he's changed music, everyone in music, he's influenced every person," she said, "and I believe that he represents our future, and it kind of died with him in a way."
Last days: Canceled concerts, emergency landing
Just this month, Prince made news, but it wasn't for his music. He said he wasn't feeling well, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and canceled a concert at the Fox Theater in the Georgia city.
A week later, he took the stage in Atlanta to perform two concerts with 80-minute sets, unusually short for him. The stage was engulfed in lavender smoke. It was just Prince at his piano. He played his classic songs but kept the mood light and fun -- at one point showing off his skills with a version of the Peanuts theme song.
That concert, a week ago, earned rave reviews. Prince himself seemed to feel the power of his performance, posting afterward on social media, "I am transformed."
But as he headed back home to Minnesota, Prince made an unexpected stop.
The singer's plane made an emergency landing Friday, April 15th and he reportedly was rushed to a hospital in Moline, Illinois.
Afterward, his publicist said, "He is fine and at home."
On Saturday, April 16th, he played for a small gathering of fans at Paisley Park, proudly showing them a new purple Yamaha piano and a guitar that was made for him in Europe. The appearance, Minneapolis Star Tribune music critic Jon Beam wrote the next day, seemed aimed at proving he was alive and well.
"He never intended to perform on Saturday. There was no microphone stand next to his piano," Beam wrote. "He just wanted to demonstrate that reports of his dire health were greatly exaggerated."
The music critic noted that Prince showed off his new guitar, but didn't perform with it.
"I have to leave it in the case, or I'll be tempted to play it," Prince told the crowd, according to Beam. "I can't play the guitar at all these days, so I can keep my mind on this (the solo piano) and get better."
TMZ says there is evidence Prince's death was not unexpected, because TMZ has learned the superstar started writing his memoirs just a month ago.
Sources connected with Prince tell TMZ, they were surprised he started the project -- something he had been mulling over for years but not acting upon.
TMZ was told Prince had finished around 50 pages at the time of his death.
TMZ is reporting that Prince hit up a local pharmacy hours before he died -- the fourth time he visited the pharmacy this week.
TMZ obtained this photo of Prince leaving a Walgreens pharmacy near his home in Minnesota on Wednesday night, April 20th:
Sources tell TMZ people at the Walgreens store were concerned because he looked much more frail and nervous than usual.
What's more -- according to TMZ, on Saturday night, when he addressed the crowd at Paisley Park near his home, he said: "Wait a few days before you waste any prayers."
Fame reached fever pitch
Prince's sound was as unique and transfixing as he was. He created what became known as the Minneapolis sound, which was a funky blend of pop, synth and new wave.
Controversy followed the singer and that, in part, made his fans adore him more.
The singer's fame never waned through the decades, but he was considered synonymous with the 1980s. His fame reached a fever pitch with the 1984 film "Purple Rain," about an aspiring musician, his troubled home life and a budding romance.
He was a prolific musician. Between 1985 and 1992, he released eight albums, one per year, including the soundtrack for Tim Burton's "Batman." He starred in two more movies during that era: "Under the Cherry Moon" and "Graffiti Bridge." He also put out a concert film. "Sign 'o' the Times" hit theaters in 1987.
He infamously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in the 1990s during a dispute with his record label, Warner Bros. He started to become known then as the "Artist Formerly Known as Prince."
In 2000, when the singer's publishing contract with the company expired, he reclaimed the name Prince.
Prince won seven Grammy Awards and earned 30 nominations. Five of his singles topped the charts and 14 other songs hit the Top 10. He won an Oscar for best original song score for "Purple Rain."
The singer's predilection for lavishly kinky story-songs earned him the nickname "His Royal Badness." He was also known as the "Purple One" because of his colorful fashions.
Prince Rogers Nelson's music transcended genres and generations. There were songs you could sing every word to, ditties that drove you to dance and ballads so poignant in their descriptions of love and life that anyone could relate.
Simply put, not that anything with the mercurial musician was simple, Prince had more hits than most musicians have songs in their catalogs.
Writing and producing music in five decades, he touched and inspired artists all along the musical spectrum, from Madonna to Beyonce, from Stevie Nicks to Foo Fighters, from Public Enemy to The Roots and from George Clinton to The Time.
Whether his fingers danced across the keys of a baby grand or belted out a mind-melting solo on one of his elaborate axes, he was the consummate showman. And that is to say nothing of his hypnotic vocals and songwriting skills, the means by which his music truly entered the hearts of fans both ardent and casual.
"The most prolific thing to me about Prince was not only was he the most vibrant example of black genius that I have ever seen, but he was able to negotiate God and sex in his subject matter in a way that we had never seen before," said the music icon's former stylist, Michaela Angela Davis. "Every song was either a prayer or foreplay."
His death Thursday came six days after he was reportedly rushed to a hospital in Moline, Illinois, following a concert in Atlanta. He'd been traveling home and apparently fell ill, and his plane made an emergency landing. He was released a few hours later.
The Atlanta concert on April 14 was a rescheduled event from a week earlier, when that show was canceled because Prince had come down with the flu, his reps said.
To show fans he was well, he tweeted that a dance party would be held Saturday at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota and later shared a photo that appeared to be of partygoers enjoying a good time.
The shocking death of the man who penned hits such as "Let's Go Crazy," "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "When Doves Cry" hit fans and fellow artists hard.
Born in Minneapolis, Prince received his love of music from his father, who played piano in a jazz band. As a teen he was signed with Warner Bros. Records and released his debut album, "For You," in 1978.
"Dirty Mind" and "Controversy" followed in 1980 and 1981, respectively, and stirred controversy with sexual lyrics that also touched on religious themes.
But the singer/songwriter/musician found fame with his 1982 album, "1999," and his androgynous look and mastery of the guitar drew comparisons to both Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix.
Soon, Hollywood came calling, and in 1984 he starred in the semi-autobiographical film "Purple Rain."
The story of a struggling Minneapolis musician and the film's soundtrack made Prince an international superstar. The theme song from the movie won an Academy Award for best original score.
His fusion of pop, rock, funk and soul made for a distinctive sound and launched other artists who played with him, including super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Time, Vanity 6 and percussionist Sheila E.
In 1993, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, which was also the title of his latest album. He became known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," which he shortened to "The Artist," and his career underwent a setback after Warner Bros. dropped its distribution deal with Paisley Park Records.
The singer appeared in public with "Slave" written on his face in 1995 and seemed determined to gain control of both his career and his master recordings.
He told The New York Times in 1996 that he couldn't stop writing music and had a backlog of thousands of songs.
"Sometimes ideas are coming so fast that I have to stop doing one song to get another," he told the paper. "But I don't forget the first one. If it works, it will always be there. It's like the truth: it will find you and lift you up. And if it ain't right, it will dissolve like sand on the beach.''
He continued to make albums over the years, though his conversion to the Jehovah's Witness faith caused him to forgo some of his racier lyrics. In 2014, he left Warner Bros. and soon after embraced social media as a way of staying in contact with his fans.
In February, he announced dates for his Piano & Microphone tour, a small-scale production that packed smaller venues and left fans delirious.