Prince, the beloved musician, died of an opioid overdose at his home in Minnesota one year ago. The singer was only 57 years old when he died, and fans and friends alike publicly lamented his passing, questioning how and why the musical icon had died so young. Even a year later, we still have a lot of unanswered questions: where did Prince get the fentanyl that killed him? Is there anyone who can be held responsible for his untimely death? Everyone wants answers in such a high-profile case, yet there are still so few.
Based on new court documents released on April 17, 2017 (including search warrants and affidavits from the Carver Country Sheriff’s Office), we now know that Prince had a “significant amount” of opiate medications — for which he did not have prescriptions — hidden around his residence.
These tablets (some of which included the extraordinarily potent narcotic fentanyl) were discovered mixed together with other, more common medications like Aleve and in a suitcase with a name tag for “Peter Bravestrong,” his alias. According to the New York Times, several of them looked to be from a prescription written in the name of Kirk Johnson, a longtime friend and personal aide to the singer.
Although these discoveries appear to show that Prince went to tremendous lengths to conceal his opiate addiction, they don’t explain how the singer obtained them, which is the case’s main emphasis at this stage, according to authorities.
Years in The Beginning
Prince was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on January 19, 1920, to John Tervathan Upchurch and Betty Prince Upchurch. He enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in France during WWII, where he created the band “The Chowhounds.”
Career as A Singer and Actor
Prince joined the Shep Fields band as a vocalist after leaving the military. After that, he performed at nightclubs such as Colosimo’s Cafe in Chicago, Alan Gale’s Celebrity Club in Miami, and Billy Gray’s Band Box in Hollywood. According to a Billboard assessment, “Prince is a cinch to climb to greater heights with a style as contagious as a tonne of honey.”
During the Broadway run of Guys and Dolls from 1950 to 1953, Prince took over the part of Nicely-Nicely Johnson as a stand-in He was Marrying’ Sam’s understudy and replacement actor in Li’l Abner beginning in 1956. Prince’s final Broadway performance was Wash in Destry Rides Again, which ran from 1959 to 1960. The primary actor was Andy Griffith.
According to Prince, “Because I’m a singer, I had to leave Broadway. Unless it’s something really easy, I’m not an actor.” On the July 25, 1954 broadcast of The Colgate Comedy Hour, Prince made one of his first television appearances. He was the male vocalist on the CBS variety show The Johnny Carson Show from June 30, 1955 through March 29, 1956.
When The Andy Griffith Show premiered, Griffith remembered his Destry Rides Again co-star Prince and invited him to join the cast. In the first season, Prince played Ben Sewell in the episode Alcohol and Old Lace, which aired on January 30, 1961.  In the April 10, 1961 episode The Inspector, he played Luke Rainer, and in the April 21, 1961 episode Andy Forecloses, he played a rummage sale buyer. Prince appeared in three episodes in seasons two and three as farmer and moonshiner Rafe Hollister: Sheriff Barney (December 25, 1961), The County Nurse (March 19, 1962), and Rafe Hollister Sings (February 11, 1963). Prince believed that appearing on the show would interfere with his singing prospects, but Griffith encouraged him to appear in more episodes.
Prince was a member of the Harry James Band from 1963 until 1964.
His work in the 1970s and 1980s is little unknown. On TNN’s Nashville Now in September 1991, Prince reprised his role as Rafe Hollister. In a jail joke, he and Hal Smith, who played town alcoholic Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show, sang The Lonesome Road, a song heard in the Rafe Hollister Sings episode.
The Prescription Opioid Investigation and The Cause of Prince’s Death
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press on June 2, 2016, more than a month after Prince’s death, that testing revealed the musician died of an opiate overdose. Following that disclosure, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office released Prince’s autopsy report, confirming that fentanyl intoxication was the cause of his death.
Fentanyl is a highly strong synthetic opiate that is frequently used to alleviate severe pain following surgery. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, it is similar to morphine but significantly more potent.
In the months leading up to his death, Prince’s personal chef of almost three years, Ray Roberts, told the Associated Press that the musician was suffering from frequent spells of sore throat and upset stomach. According to Roberts, Prince was eating less and drinking less water, and he appeared to be losing weight.
“For the previous month or two, it felt like he wasn’t himself,” Roberts added. “I believe he was just dealing with a lot of sicknesses.” According to Sheila E., who worked with Prince and was once engaged to him, the musician suffered from severe discomfort, particularly in his hips.
She told Entertainment Tonight, “You think about all the years he was jumping from those risers.” “They weren’t low — in fact, they were sky-high — and to jump off that… For starters, he was wearing those heels on the Purple Rain tour because of how they were stacked. We did a year of traveling, and for him to jump off after that would have messed up his knees for the rest of his life.”
“He was in constant pain,” she recalled, “but he was a performer.”