Funeral for Prince's half-brother, Duane Nelson, is Saturday

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2011 - 3:17 PM

A funeral service is planned Saturday for Prince's half-brother, Duane Nelson, who died last week.

Nelson, 52, who once worked as head of security at Paisley Park, died Friday. He reportedly was found in his apartment, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's chief investigator, Don Gorrie.

Gorrie said that the autopsy has been completed but the case is still under investigation. When I told him I'd heard that Nelson had become a very large man -- and I remembered him as not that big a guy -- Gorrie confirmed that was an accurate description.

According to a Star Tribune obituary, Nelson's funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. That is the church where Prince married his first wife, Mayte Garcia.

Prince's friend and sometimes drummer Sheila E. tweeted this on her Twitter.com account: "Prayers go out to Prince's family for the loss of his brother Duane, who was an awesome man."

Sheila E's tweet includes a link to comments from Tyka Phillips, who is Prince's only full sibling: "All Glory & Honor 2 God -- We Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of the kind words, e-mails, etc. of condolences. My brother Duane has gone to be with God -- He is in a better place. Please respect our Family's privacy at this time of mourning."

Nelson's 12-year tenure as Paisley Park's security guy and chief gofer often led to him playing the heavy, a role which he sometimes took to unnecessary lengths. In 1994, he faced assault charges in Carver County for beating up a former girlfriend who had come to Paisley for a Prince concert.

In 1997, Nelson wound up in Hennepin County Jail after an altercation with process servers and neighbors. His sister, Lorna Nelson, who died in 2006, wanted Prince to bail Duane out of jail. Duane called me from jail and said, "Please, if you could get me out of here tomorrow, then I could think again."

Around the time of this brush with the law, Duane told me a restraining order had been filed against him by Prince. After Prince reportedly fired Duane from Paisley Park, they had a very rocky relationship and, I know from phone calls with Duane and running into him downtown many years ago, he appeared to have fallen on hard times.

According to Nelson's obituary, he is survived by a child, a grandchild, two brothers and three sisters.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of this attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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