Prince cremated, celebrated in 'beautiful' private ceremony, publicist says

Prince was cremated and a group of his "most beloved" family, friends and musicians celebrated him afterward in a small, private service, his publicist said Saturday.

The 57-year-old music superstar died Thursday at Paisley Park, his home and recording studio near Minneapolis

A single rose sits in a fence in tribute to musician Prince at a makeshift memorial outside of Paisley Park, his home and recording studio just outside Minneapolis. (Eric Miller/Reuters)

Some of Prince's "most beloved" family, friends and musicians celebrated his life in a small, private service on Saturday after his remains had been cremated.

His publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said in a statement that the 57-year-old music superstar's family and friends gathered "in a private, beautiful ceremony" to say a loving goodbye.

The statement did not say where the service was held, but friends such as percussionist Sheila E. and bassist Larry Graham were both seen Saturday entering Prince's suburban Minneapolis estate, Paisley Park. Prince's sister Tyka Nelson and brother-in-law Maurice Phillips also were seen on the grounds, as were catering trucks.

Hundreds of fans were gathered outside the estate, where a security fence was covered with purple balloons, flowers, signs and more honouring Prince, who both lived and recorded at there.

People emerged from the estate and handed out round purple boxes to some fans. Each box contained a handout with a colour photo of the late musician and a black T-shirt with "3121" printed on it in white — the numbers were the title of a Prince album.

Prince died Thursday at Paisley Park, and an autopsy was done Friday. But authorities have not released a cause of death and have said results could take days or weeks.

The publicist's brief statement repeated that the cause of Prince's death was unknown and said autopsy results wouldn't be received for at least four weeks.

Prince, shown performing in this 2010 file photo, died Thursday at his home and recording studio, Paisley Park, just outside Minneapolis. (Dirk Waem/AFP/Getty Images)

The statement said the "final storage" of Prince's remains would be private.

"We ask for your blessings and prayers of comfort for his family and close friends at this time," the statement said.

It said a "musical celebration" would be held at a future date.

Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator at his estate. The sheriff and a medical examiner spokeswoman declined Friday to say whether prescription drugs were taken from the home after his death.

Celebrity website TMZ, citing unidentified sources, has reported that Prince was treated for an overdose of the powerful painkiller Percocet while travelling home from concerts in Atlanta last week. The site said his plane made an emergency landing April 15 in Moline, Ill., where he was briefly hospitalized.

Representatives for Prince did not respond to requests from The Associated Press for comment on the reports of the emergency landing and overdose treatment.

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Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson has said Prince was last seen alive by an acquaintance who dropped him off at Paisley Park at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Purple Rain star, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was found by staff members who went to the compound the next morning when they couldn't reach him by phone.

Emergency crews who answered the 911 call in Chanhassen, Minn., about 30 kilometres outside Minneapolis, could not revive Prince, the sheriff said. He said emergency workers did not administer Narcan, a drug they carry to counteract overdoses.

Prince's death came two weeks after he cancelled concerts in Atlanta, saying he wasn't feeling well. He played a pair of makeup shows April 14 in that city, apologizing to the crowd shortly after coming on stage.

Early in the first show, he briefly disappeared from the stage without explanation. After about a minute he returned and apologized, saying he didn't realize how emotional the songs could be. He played the rest of the show without incident and performed three encores.

In the later show, he coughed a few times, though the show was again energetic.

A woman cries at a vigil in Los Angeles celebrating the life and music of Prince, who died at age 57. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Then came the reported emergency landing en route to Minnesota. The night after that, Prince hosted a dance party at Paisley Park, where some fans said he looked fine and seemed irked by reports of an illness. Prince didn't play except to tap out a few notes on a piano, and lingered only for a few minutes before disappearing.

Prince was slated to perform two shows earlier this week at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis but cancelled last week because of health concerns.

Sheila E. has told the AP that Prince had physical issues from performing, citing hip and knee problems she said came from years of jumping off risers and stage speakers in heels. But she said she hadn't talked directly with him in several months.

The musician had spoken about struggling with childhood epilepsy. It was unclear if his epilepsy carried into adulthood.