A new story in the UK Guardian newspaper revealed that the musician Prince had pills in his bag that were mislabeled fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid "50 times stronger than heroin." The pills were marked Watson 385, which is hydrocodone with a little acetaminophen in it. There has been an uptick in fentanyl overdoses, according to another Guardian story.
There's an interesting paragraph tucked into the story:
Tests on Prince before his death did not show fentanyl in his system, which means he was not a long-time abuser of that drug, but probably took the fatal dose in the 24 hours before he died, the official said.
Prince was not a fentanyl addict, in other words. He did take a number of pills to help with pain and anxiety, and he took a lot of Vitamin C. And yet he had a large number of fentanyl pills that were labeled so that someone would think they were taking hydrocodone instead. So if Prince didn't know what he was taking because the drugs were falsified, that would tend to rule out both accidental death and suicide.
Who would have a motive for killing Prince?
I don't know, but in the last couple of years something happened which is reminiscent of Michael Jackson just before he died. He got his publishing back:
...privately some label executives have also said that in some instances the wiser course might be to negotiate the reversions and retain control of issuing artists' catalog eligible for copyright terminations.
In cutting what appears to be a landmark deal, Prince has chosen to remain with the label that was the subject of his ire back in the 1990's avoiding a risky and costly legal battle and still regains ownership of his catalog.
There was also a recent article in the New York Times discussing his battles with the industry in maintaining ownership over both his material and venue to release it:
In recent years, he took full control of his music rights. That included ownership of his music publishing — the copyrights for songwriting — and his recordings, which led to a new deal with Warner Bros. in 2014...
For fans, one of the biggest questions is what will happen to his fabled “vault” of unreleased recordings.
There's a lot we don't know, of course. But it's enough to raise some questions.
This is Joe Green's blog.