It was two years ago Saturday (April 21st, 2016) that Prince -- born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7th, 1958 -- died at age 57 of an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. Yesterday (April 19th), Rolling Stone reported that Minnesota's Carver County Attorney Mark Metz announced he was closing the investigation into the musician's death without filing any criminal charges. During a press conference, Metz explained, "For the past two years, law enforcement has conducted an extensive, painstaking and thorough investigation into Prince's death. That investigation determined that Prince died from taking a counterfeit Vicodin pill that contained Fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid. . . we simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime related to Prince's death."
Released yesterday (April 19th) is Prince's original long-unreleased original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U". This previously unreleased version predates the first recorded version by the Family, and was recorded in 1984 -- six years before Sinead O'Connor's month-long 1990 chart-topping cover. According to the press release, the track was recorded at the Flying Cloud Drive 'Warehouse' in Eden Prairie by Prince's long-time engineer Susan Rogers, and originally composed, arranged and performed in its entirety by Prince, aside from the backing vocals by Susannah Melvoin, Paul "St. Paul" Peterson, and saxophone by Eric Leeds. The new track is available to stream, purchase via digital retailers, and as two seven-inch vinyl singles -- available in both a picture disc and standard black vinyl format.
Michael Howe, the Prince estate's official vault archivist, gave the backstory on locating the unknown master for Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U": "I spotted the two-inch multitrack reel in the vault some weeks back while doing a 1984-era inventory. After retrieving my jaw from the floor, we took the reel upstairs, analyzed it, put it up on the Studer 24 track machine, and digitized it to 24/192. Even our 'faders up' rough mix was compelling enough to indicate that this was something very special indeed." A new video for the song has been prepared featuring 1984 rehearsal footage ofPrince & The Revolution practicing their choreography in that same Eden Prairie 'Warehouse' during the same summer the track was recorded.
In the year following his death, the "Purple One’s" catalogue sold a combined 7.7 million copies in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen. Of that 7.7 million, 2.3 million came in the form of traditional album sales, while the remaining 5.4 million were from digital downloads -- with Prince, by far, selling more albums than any other artist during the same time period. The closest competition wasAdele, who sold an impressive 2.23 million units. Billboard reported the 5.4 million digital song downloads comprise one-third of the 18.64 million downloads of his songs since Nielsen began tracking that info in 2003.