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Prince was 'perfectly healthy'

Associated Press Associated Press 24/04/2016 Jeff Baenen and Amy Forliti

Prince talked dirty in song but had a reputation for clean living. He also had an ability to put on shows that were electrifying in their athleticism.

But after his death at age 57 - following a series of cancelled shows and a reported emergency plane landing for medical treatment - questions swirled over whether the music superstar had been hiding serious health problems from his fans.

An autopsy was conducted on Friday and the body released to his family. Authorities said it could be weeks before the cause of death is released.

But Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said Prince's body had no signs of violence when he was found unresponsive on Thursday morning in an elevator at Paisley Park, his estate in suburban Minneapolis, and there was nothing to suggest it was suicide. Olson said it appeared Prince had been at the compound alone.

"This is certainly a big event internationally and nationally, and I can tell you that we are going to leave no stone unturned with this and make sure the public knows what happened," the sheriff said at a news conference.

Olson and a spokeswoman for the medical examiner refused to say whether any prescription drugs were taken from Prince's home after his death, and they would not comment on a report by the celebrity website TMZ that the Purple Rain star had suffered an overdose of a powerful painkiller less than a week before he died.

Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, had spoken about struggling with childhood epilepsy, and friends said he had hip trouble. His former percussionist Sheila E told The Associated Press that Prince suffered the effects from years of jumping off risers and speakers on stage while wearing high heels.

"There was always something kind of bothering him, as it does all of us," she said. "I hurt every single day. You know we're like athletes, we train, and we get hurt all the time. We have so many injuries."

Prince's cousin Chazz Smith said he could not comment on reports about Prince's health and would not say when he last saw his cousin.

"I can tell you this: What I know is that he was perfectly healthy," said Smith, who formed a band with Prince when they were kids.

Smith said Prince swore off drugs and alcohol as a kid, and the group they played with saw a lot of music greats fall, so "we decided to never get into that stuff, and no one did".

Prince disclosed in a 2009 interview with Tavis Smiley that he was born an epileptic and had seizures when he was young. It was unclear if his epilepsy carried into adulthood.

In 2009, Prince, a Jehovah's Witness, told an interviewer with the Los Angeles Times that he didn't do drugs "or I'd give you a joint" to share while they listened to music.

Heather McElhatton, who worked on and off as a set decorator for Prince's video shoots at Paisley Park from 1988 to 1998, said she never saw him take drugs or drink during her time there.

"But he did have a lot of energy. He could shoot for two days straight," McElhatton said. "Was it natural energy? Was it augmented energy? I don't know. I never saw him eat."

Sheila E said: "It's just like being a football player and a basketball player. You know he really took care of himself. He ate well. He ate better than me."

She said she hadn't talked to him for at least six months but tried to reach him after reading reports that he needed emergency medical attention. She said the man who answered told her Prince was sleeping and would let him know she called.

"He said he was good," she said.

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