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Pop star Prince dead at 57

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Prince, the innovative US music superstar whose songwriting and eccentric stage presence electrified fans around the world with hits including Purple Rain and When Doves Cry has died at age 57.

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Medical examiners have received Prince’s body and plan to perform an autopsy within a day.

The music superstar was found dead on Thursday at his studio compound in suburban Minneapolis. The cause of death isn’t known.

Authorities said deputies who were summoned to a medical emergency found him in a lift, unresponsive, and CPR failed.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, tweeted that it had received Prince’s body. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

In this May 2, 1990 photo Prince performs a benefit concert for the family of Charles (Big Chick) Huntsberry in Minneapolis. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (David Brewster/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT

Prince performs a 1990 benefit concert. Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune/AP.

Carver County chief sheriff’s deputy Jason Kamerud said foul play “is neither suspected nor not suspected”.

Kamerud said it’s simply too early in the investigation. He said he was not sure how long it would take to process the death scene because of the size of the compound.

He said the medical examiner typically takes a few days to announce preliminary findings, and typically weeks for toxicology results.

Prince’s death at age 57 has sparked an outpouring of grief from fans, with hundreds gathering outside his studio and the downtown Minneapolis nightclub where much of the movie Purple Rain was filmed.

First Avenue nightclub owner Dayna Frank said the venue had decided to hold an all-night dance party in his honour, which would give people a place to share their emotions and celebrate Prince. Entry to the event is free.

Scores of people have left bouquets, balloons and a guitar under the star that honours Prince on the club’s exterior wall, where the artist last played in 2007.

Frank said everyone at the club was devastated.

Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson thanked fans who showed up at his compound to mourn his death.

She emerged from the compound early on Thursday evening local time to look at bouquets, balloons and signs left by fans of her brother, then approached the crowd of nearly 200.

Nelson told the fans that her brother “loved all of you. Thank you for loving him back.”

A transcript of the 911 call from Prince’s compound shows confusion as an unidentified caller struggled to give the dispatcher the proper address.

The caller said he was at “Prince’s house” but first placed it in Minneapolis. Another person at the compound eventually gave the correct address in the suburb of Chanhassen.

The caller first said he has “someone who is unconscious” before saying “the person is dead here”.

As the dispatcher identifies the address as Paisley Park and begins to ask a question, the caller interrupts to say, “Yes, it’s Prince.”

Deputies found Prince unresponsive in a lift.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said first responders tried CPR but couldn’t revive the 57-year-old musician. Olson said Prince was pronounced dead at 10.07am on Thursday local time (1.07am AEST Friday), about half an hour after deputies arrived.

Sales of Prince’s music have soared since news broke of the pop star’s death.

Three of his songs – Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, and When Doves Cry, – surged to seventh, ninth and 10th on iTunes’ Top Songs chart.

Four of his albums – The Very Best of Prince, Purple Rain, The Hits/The B-Sides, and 1999 – jumped to first, second, third and eighth on iTunes’ Top Albums chart by Friday afternoon AEST.

The singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist was widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive musicians of his era, drawing upon influences ranging from James Brown to the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix.

The Minneapolis native broke through in the late 1970s with the hits Wanna Be Your Lover and soared over the following decade with albums 1999 and Purple Rain.

The title song from 1999 includes one of the most widely quoted refrains of popular culture: “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”

A woman named Vera wept at Paisley Park on the news of the death of artist Prince. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday,April 21, 2016, according to his publicist. He was 57. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune via AP)

A woman named Vera wept at Paisley Park on the news of Prince’s death. Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune/AP.

Sheila E., a singer and percussionist who worked closely with Prince in the 1980s, wrote on Twitter: “My heart is broken. There are no words. I love you!”

Prince’s death was the most notable passing of a music giant since David Bowie died of cancer at 60 on January 10.

Prince, whose hit songs also included Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette and Kiss, was on a US tour as recently as last week.

Last Friday, he was briefly hospitalised with the flu after his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, TMZ reported.

Prince first found fame in the late 1970s. Over the next three decades, he became known as one of the most inventive forces in American pop music.

Often making a statement with bold fashion choices, the diminutive, 1.57-metre star sometimes appeared on stage sporting ruffled shirts and tight pants or elaborate costumes, including chain mail covering his face, a shimmery orange tunic with a cane, or bikini briefs.

He was regarded as a perfectionist, who from 1993 to 2000 changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in what was seen as a protest against his record label at the time.

For a while, he was dubbed “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”.

An intensely private person, Prince sold more than 100 million records.

In addition to his seven Grammy awards, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

His most recent album, HITnRUN: Phase Two was released in December.

Prince’s Oscar was for best original song score for Purple Rain, the 1984 movie whose music was based on his album of the same name and in which he starred.

In a 1998 interview with Reuters, Prince chuckled as he said he ignored the critics and that he had no expectations for his then-current album.

Expectations take away from the quest for great music, he said.

“I don’t expect anything,” Prince said.

“I just do what I feel I’m supposed to do.”

-Reuters/AP

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