What Killed Prince?

The news of the death of mega star Prince shocked the world , and worlds beyond.  As a disc jockey on KTSA 35 years ago I played every Prince song he released, including those he wrote and produced but didn’t sing like ‘Nothing Compares to You’ by Sinead O’Conner, ‘Jungle Love’ by The Time, “I Feel For You’ by Chaka Kahn, and many, many more.  His musical influences were enormous.  THE most amazing performance I have ever seen by ANY performer was Super Bowl 2007 when he performed ‘Purple Rain’ in the pouring rain.  After all the preparation that went into the show the network just knew he would want to cancel due to the deluge, but when the show’s management called him that morning to tell him it was raining he said, “Cool – can you make it rain harder?”  YES!
Like Elvis, I will forever remember where I was when I heard the news of his death.
His autopsy is just completed, and we are told it could take weeks or months to get the results.  SPECULATION centers around some sort of prescription drug abuse brought about by injuries sustained during his wildly unbelievable stage antics.  He could move!  TMZ and other celebrity sights report he may have begun using opioids to deal with the constant pain caused by hips that were destroyed by his fantastic dance moves.  The fact he MAY have overdosed was even more shocking to me because I had no clue this may have been an issue for him.  With Winehouse you knew what was likely to happen, and sadly it did.  Not so with Prince.  I don’t know if any of that is true so I will wait until we get something more definitive, and refrain from speculation.
However, what is clear is that we have a prescription drug abuse issue in the USA.  According to government stats from the NIH the number of prescription opioid unintentional deaths have quadrupled since 1999!  It is a very delicate balance to strike because people need access to these meds to deal with chronic pain.  I am very close to someone who lives with chronic pain every day of his life.  It is devastating.  As a society we need to protect their right and ability to access these meds which help them literally make it another day, but we also need to be aware that constant use can turn into abuse, and unfortunately for some overuse, and we need to to be prepared for the inevitable – no matter how shocking it is.
RIP Prince.  And thank you for the many, many smiles.
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