The announcement Thursday afternoon came a few hours after authorities in Carver County, Minnesota, responded to Prince's Paisley Park estate in the town of Chanhassen.
The 57-year-old Grammy-winning artist's death also came a week after his tour plane made an emergency landing in Illinois, where he was hospitalized with what was described as the flu. That illness followed him canceling a pair of concerts in Atlanta.
Prince channeled the dance moves of James Brown, the guitar virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix and the theatricality of "Sgt. Peppers"-era Beatles.
But he was indisputably a singular figure in American music, mixing breakneck guitar solos, soaring falsettos, infectious melodies, provocative lyrics, acrobatic dance moves and outrageous costumes — which typically reflected his obsession with the color purple.
In the studio, he was a notorious perfectionist, playing almost all the instruments on his studio recordings. He nurtured generations of pop stars, including many who also came from Minnesota and his hometown of Minneapolis.
He toured the world many times over, but was also reclusive, puzzling fans with offbeat antics and offending traditionalists with his mix of religious and sexual themes.
The son of a jazz pianist, Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson in June 1958, but changed names a number of times — including his head-scratching use of a glyph as the result of a dispute with his record company, which he used from 1993 to 2000. The symbol forced people to refer to him as "the artist formerly known as Prince."
He also toyed with people’s conceptions of him, often appearing sexually androgynous to the people who did not know him.
He signed his first record contract as a teenager, and in 1978 released "For You," marking the start of a prodigious songwriting career in which he released 36 more albums over the following 37 years, ending with last year's "HITnRUN: Phase Two." Even then, the prolific pace could not keep up with his torrid speed; hundreds of recordings reportedly remain in his personal vaults.