Pop icon Prince has died

  • 22/04/2016

Prince, one of the most influential figures in pop music, has died, aged 57.

His body was found at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota overnight (NZT). His publicist confirmed this morning that he had passed.

Last week the singer had a medical emergency, forcing his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. He appeared at a concert the next day to show fans he was okay, but told fans to save their prayers.

His publicist told TMZ he was battling the flu, but there is now speculation he may have been battling something more serious.

Celebrity news site BlindGossip last week published unconfirmed reports a "very popular African American celebrity… has what is being described as AIDS", and it described the unnamed celebrity as having a "very extreme sexual past".

Prince's 1982 breakthrough album 1999 set him as an international superstar. He dominated the charts in the 1980s, with hits including 'Little Red Corvette', 'Purple Rain' and 'U Got the Look'. 

Musicians influenced by his blend of funk, rock and electronics expressed their condolences on social media.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson, he was an intensely private person, won multiple Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He sold 100 million records in his lifetime.

In the 1990s he changed his stage name to a symbol in protest against his record company. He changed it back to Prince in 2000 after the contract expired.

In 2007, 140 million people watched his Super Bowl half-time show.

Prince recently went on a world tour performing solo with just a piano for accompaniment. In February he played intimate two shows in one night at Auckland's ASB Theatre.

Newshub reviewer Paula Yeoman said: "The man had sass. He had swagger. He had style. He came to party.

"He took you back to those heady '80s and '90s days when he owned the charts. And still, he captivated on the songs you'd never heard before. He reminded us what true live music is all about. No bells and whistles -- just a man, his microphone and a piano."

An investigation is underway into his death.

His death comes just months after death of British pop star David Bowie, who died of cancer in January aged 69.