Prince, the iconic singer who was famous for an unyielding work ethic and devotion to his music, may have been severely sleep deprived in the days leading up to his death. Prince’s brother-in-law Maurice Phillips told media that the 57-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was awake for nearly a week before he was found dead Thursday at his Paisley Park estate.
According to Fox News on April 26, authorities investigating the pop star’s sudden death are focusing on the potential role that painkillers may have played in his insomnia and the decline in his health leading to his subsequent death.
Investigative sources have revealed that Prince overdosed on an opioid while on his private jet back on April 15. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois for an “unresponsive passenger.” Prince was given a “save shot” of the opioid antidote Narcan while the plane was on the tarmac before being taken to the hospital. He checked himself out later the same day.
Speaking after a private family service held 24 hours after Prince’s death, Maurice Phillips, who is married to Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister and only full blood relative, reportedly said: “He worked 154 hours straight. I was with him just last weekend. He was a good brother-in-law.”
On Saturday, a man who claims to be Prince’s former drug supplier told the UK’s Mirror News that the “Purple Rain” singer was hooked on powerful opiates for over two decades after he initially used them to overcome shyness and stage fright.
“Using the name Doctor D, he said between 1984 and 2008, the singer spent up to £28,000 (approximately $41,000 based on current exchange rates) a time on six months supplies of Fentanyl patches and Dilaudid pills. Both are highly addictive opioids,” the site reported.
However, longtime friends of Prince said the singer rarely, if ever, heavily used prescription drugs – at least not to their knowledge.
Percussionist Sheila E., who collaborated with Prince during the Purple Rain recording sessions, said Sunday that she had “never seen him take anything, not even aspirin, in the 38 years I’ve known him.”
Prince’s former valet and personal assistant Robbie Paster said he “never knew of any opiate or cocaine problem. There’s no way you can do both of those and be as driven as he was. I never saw it.”
Prince’s former manager L. Londell McMillan said that although Prince may have taken occasional medications, he was “not on any drugs that would be any cause for concern.”
“People use medication,” McMillan said. “The question is, are you on meds in a dangerous way? Everybody who knows Prince knows he wasn’t walking around drugged up. That’s foolish. No one ever saw Prince and said, ‘He looks high.’ It wasn’t what he was about.”
An autopsy was done on Prince before his body was cremated.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement this week: “As part of a complete exam, relevant information regarding Mr. Nelson’s medical and family history will be gathered. Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office will not release information until the exam is complete and all results are obtained. Gathering the results will take several days and the results of a full toxicology scan could likely take weeks.”
Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said on Friday that Prince’s death was not a suicide, and that there were no signs of trauma.
“There were no obvious signs of trauma to the body that we observed,” Olson said. “I don’t know if anything otherwise will show in the autopsy report. But there were no obvious signs to suggest anything violent happened. There were no signs of that at all. We have no reason to believe that this was suicide.”
Friends inside of Prince’s faith – he was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness in 2003 – described “Brother Nelson” as a spiritual man, one who engaged in the global door-to-door preaching work that serves as a hallmark for all Witnesses of Jehovah.
The Daily Mail spoke with George Cook, who serves as an Elder at the Saint Louis Park congregation in Minneapolis where Prince was a “Publisher” – a minister and preacher of the Bible’s message regarding God’s kingdom.
“Prince was a publisher with good standing here in our congregation. He was active, he shared in the ministry every month,” Brother Cook said. “We didn’t see him very often because he was away all the time, but he did attend the memorial of Christ’s death on March 23 here, he brought some of his band members with him. He was a spiritual man from what I know of him and he talked to individuals and he very strongly believed in the message of the Bible that Jehovah Witness’s proclaim. He believed that the true God is Jehovah and he knew for example that when we die, we’re dead, we’re sleeping and the hope is the resurrection, that’s why Jesus died.”
The local congregation was one of the few places where Prince could walk in and simply be at peace – away from adoring, smothering fans and flashing cameras.
“We try not to eulogize any individual from a personal standpoint, one person is equal in the eyes of God as another person,” Brother Cook said of Prince.