The few on board Prince's private airplane as it made an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., early that morning of April 14, 2016, feared he was dead.
Longtime friend Kirk Johnson couldn't wake him, unaware that he had overdosed on opioids. Johnson scooped up his boss and rushed him down the airplane steps, cradling him like a baby, paramedics said.
They gave him a shot of Narcan, an opioid antidote, but were shocked when it didn't revive him. So they stuck him again. Prince gasped and woke.
As responders asked questions, a stoic Johnson spoke for Prince, giving short, terse responses. Prince feels fine, he said.
All Prince said was that he felt fuzzy. He refused more treatment and a blood test because he didn't want people to know about "his use of prescription medications," Johnson told police later. They then returned to Minnesota.
Singer Judith Hill, who was on the plane, said later that Prince complained about how his hands had been hurting from banging on the piano. He said he had mixed two different kinds of pills, and that he wouldn't do it anymore.
"He's like 'I know my body well. I know!' " he told Hill. "I'm a pretty good judge of my body."
One week later, Prince was dead, the victim of a massive, accidental dosage of fentanyl — a drug far more powerful than morphine. Even those closest to him said they didn't know painkillers had taken over his life.
Long-awaited investigative documents released Thursday give the clearest narrative yet of Prince's struggles with opioid addiction in his final days. The documents reveal concerns about Prince's health first surfaced in the fall of 2015, when Johnson called his own doctor to see if he would agree to help the megastar.
Prince wouldn't see the doctor until April 7, 2016, when Johnson contacted Dr. Michael Schulenberg, a family physician he had known for 16 years. Prince had complained of numbness in one leg and tingling in both arms and had vomited the night before.
The doctor treated Prince after hours at North Memorial Clinic in Minnetonka.
Prince was so sick that he canceled concerts planned for April 7 in Atlanta, blaming the flu. Schulenberg gave him intravenous fluids and prescriptions for vitamin D and for medication to treat his nausea. He offered to see Prince again and do blood work if necessary.
Prince reported feeling much better the next day.
Prince rescheduled the Atlanta show for April 13. He had complained all day that he wasn't feeling well, Hill said. She went to see him after the first show and told him it was amazing.
"He was just kind of, 'Oh man, I enjoy sleeping more these days, you know — maybe it means I've done all I'm supposed to do here on this earth,' " she said.
She asked if he was OK. She said he responded, " 'No, it's boring, incredibly boring,' you know, so he was kind of depressed."
According to investigative records, Johnson said he didn't know Prince had a drug problem until a week later, when Prince was returning from Atlanta and made the emergency landing in Moline. Johnson told emergency personnel that he thought Prince may have taken a couple of painkillers.
"It started to all making sense … just his behavior sometimes and change of mood," Johnson told police in an interview after Prince's death. He said that's why he asked Prince to see Schulenberg, "because you haven't been to the doctor."
Johnson consulted with his dentist, Sarah Boo, in White Bear Lake shortly after the emergency plane landing. He said he found pills in Prince's black bag in a Bayer bottle and suspected there was a problem. Boo said she told Kirk he had a "class 1 drug addict" on his hands.
Before the Atlanta concert on April 14, Schulenberg prescribed 15 Percocet under Johnson's name for Prince, the only time the doctor said he did so for the artist. Johnson said he had wanted the prescription under his name to protect Prince's privacy, as he was using the pills for hip pain.
A few days later, after the Moline emergency, Prince played a dance party at Paisley Park in Chanhassen. He played "Chopsticks," and gave a brief speech, telling his audience to "wait a few days" before offering any prayers. He attended a show at the Dakota music club in Minneapolis with Johnson and some members of his band, 3rdEyeGirl. It would be the last time he would be seen in public.
Prince had been growing increasingly agitated, and his staff was concerned after the emergency in Moline. They placed a call to New York at 6 a.m. the day before he died, seeking advice from a musician with whom he had recently performed.
Schulenberg met him again at 5 o'clock that night and took blood and urine samples. He treated him for fatigue and anemia and answered Prince's questions about opioid withdrawal.
Johnson told investigators later that others had been aware of Prince's drug problem. Manuela Testolini, one of Prince's ex-wives, confirmed to police that Prince had been on opioids "for many years."
Prince appeared comfortable when he left the doctor's office. Johnson picked up a prescription for the painkiller Percocet at Walgreens. Johnson said Prince took one pill and said it wasn't helping.
Johnson dropped off Prince at Paisley Park just before 8 p.m.
Later that evening, Johnson reached out to Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, a well-known West Coast labor activist who handled some of Prince's business deals. She called California doctor Howard Kornfeld, a national authority on opioid addiction treatment.
Ellis-Lamkins told him Prince was dealing with a "grave medical emergency." Kornfield, who runs Recovery Without Walls in Mill Valley, Calif., couldn't clear his schedule to meet Prince until a day later. So he sent his son Andrew, who works with him, to Minnesota with plans for him to go to Paisley Park to explain how the confidential treatment would work. The goal was to work quickly and devise a treatment plan.
"The doctor was planning a lifesaving mission," said Bill Mauzy, who is representing the Kornfelds.
Andrew Kornfeld took a red-eye to Minneapolis and arrived at Paisley Park at 9:30 a.m. He carried in a backpack a small amount of buprenorphine, which is used in the treatment of opioid withdrawal. He planned to give it to Prince under medical supervision if necessary, but it was never administered.
As Kornfeld arrived, Johnson and Meron Bekure, Prince's personal assistant, couldn't find Prince. A few minutes later, they found his lifeless body in an elevator. Kornfeld called 911. Unfamiliar with the house, he simply told the dispatcher, "We're at Prince's house."
Kornfeld told police Prince's body was still warm, but he "knew he was dead."
Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m., 19 minutes after responders arrived. He had taken a massive, accidental overdose of fentanyl. Fifteen pills of counterfeit Vicodin were found in his dressing room. Two more aspirin bottles with more than 80 counterfeit Vicodin were found in his bedroom, along with a pamphlet on how to quit drugs.
When Johnson found the body, Prince was still wearing the clothes he wore when he dropped him off the night before: black pants, black shirt.
On the day he died, even as real help seemed close at hand, Prince received e-mails from several people asking if he was OK. Word had been getting around he wasn't doing well.
Johnson told investigators that Prince had only admitted the day before to having a drug problem. The officer asked: "Any idea how long this has been going on? No idea?"
Johnson said, "No. I mean that — that's why I was trying to reach back to people when no one was just, you know, everyone's scared to say something I guess. I don't know."
He added, "That's what pisses me off cause it's like — man — how did he hide this so well?"
Days later, Prince was cremated and buried in a private service at Paisley Park.
Staff Writers Rochelle Olson, Jeremy Olson and Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.