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Prince’s Close Friends Reveal How His Painkiller Addiction Began

Prince performs during his "Welcome 2 Europe" tour at The Hop Farm Festival on July 3, 2011 in Paddock Wood, United Kingdom.
Prince performs during his Welcome 2 Europe tour at the Hop Farm Festival on July 3, 2011, in Paddock Wood, England.Brian Ach/WireImage for NPG Records 2011

Rest in peace, Purple One. Several of Prince’s close friends open up to Us Weekly exclusively in the new issue about the late singer and his secret, decade-old addiction to painkillers.

Prince’s battle with opioids presumably stemmed from chronic pain after a hip strain derailed his daily physical activity. One of the “Purple Rain” singer’s musical collaborators, Sky Dangcil, tells Us that the legendary artist “took the pills to keep the show going.”

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When the pain would become unbearable, the “When Doves Cry” singer would jet to his $12 million estate in Turks and Caicos, where he would just “rest his hips,” says Dangcil, who deejayed and played violin for Prince from 2000 to 2007. “Everyone saw that his hips were turning into a bigger problem,” Dangcil adds to Us. “He was always ‘on,’ so he wouldn’t complain or say anything was wrong.”

In private, the 5-foot-2 singer struggled with his condition. “He was always in a lot of pain,” Prince’s longtime hairstylist Kim Berry tells Us. She speculates that his addiction to opioids likely stemmed from his round-the-clock commitment to his music (including sleepless marathon recording sessions), combined with “30 years of jumping off speakers with 4-inch shoes on.”

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In 2010, the singer was forced to have hip replacement surgery. He also had to trade in his heeled boots for platform sneakers. “Walking around with a cane was not just to look supercool,” Berry tells Us of the star. 

CNN commentator Van Jones echoes what the others have noted. “He worked himself very, very hard,” recalls Jones, who was friends with Prince for a decade. “He was never sitting around watching the Kardashians.” 

Prince appeared with actress Rosario Dawson and civil rights attorney/activist Van Jones on 'The View' in 2012.
Prince appeared with actress Rosario Dawson and civil rights attorney/activist Van Jones on ‘The View’ in 2012. Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images

(Ironically enough, New Girl actress Zooey Deschanel revealed on Monday, May 9, that Prince ordered the Kardashians’ cameos to be banned from his guest appearance on the Fox sitcom. “Everyone had gone out of their way to be there on that day, but Prince was running the show,” Deschanel told Conan O’Brien.)

The seven-time Grammy winner died at age 57 on April 21, in an elevator of his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The site was raided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday, May 10.

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“I can confirm the DEA’s presence there,” a rep for the DEA’s Chicago division told Us Weekly on Wednesday. Prince’s autopsy was completed on Friday, April 22, and the results are still pending. 

For more on Prince’s final days, his secret addiction and his legacy, pick up the May 23 issue of Us Weekly — on stands now. 

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