Did Religion Kill Prince? Rumors Fly And Autopsy Results Are Weeks Away

Since the death of Prince Rogers Nelson last week, rumors about what caused his demise have been running rampant. Some whisper that autopsy results will conclude that the beloved music icon died from an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers. Garish tabloid headlines promise lurid stories claiming Prince died of AIDS. Conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to surmise the Paisley Park denizen’s death was no accident, but a ghoulish music industry “hit” that coincided with the timing of Prince’s recent takeover of the rights to his own music product.

If, as suggested by the Santa Monica Observer this week, Prince passed from complications due to AIDS, it may have been because treatment for HIV would conflict with his religious beliefs. According to the SM Observer, when the powerful albeit diminutive composer contracted the HIV virus in the 1990s, he opted to keep the information private. The report also notes Prince’s conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness faith in 2001. As the story goes, it took a long, long time for a fellow musician by the name of Larry Graham to persuade Prince to join the congregation at Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in St. Louis Park. Prince was quoted as saying he joined the fold after a two-year debate with Graham and that doing so was more of a “realization” than a “conversion.”

In 2004, Prince told CNBC News anchor Maria Bartiromo the following.

“I started studying the Bible once I changed my name back and started studying with my good friend Larry Graham. He helped me to just look at the Bible in a very practical way, to cut through all the dogma. I just wanted a clean, simple approach to it.”

If the name Larry Graham sounds familiar, it should. Prince and Larry had a lot more in common than religion. The always-dapper gentleman who illuminated Prince’s way to the Jehovah’s Witnesses ranks among the funkiest, most chops-heavy bass player who ever stomped a stage. Here he is “adding some bottom” with Sly and the Family Stone in 1968.

And here is Larry Graham with Prince, talking about God and other things on Dutch TV in 2009.

On April 25th, just four days after his death, CNN reported that Prince was “an understated man in a simple black suit” who slipped into Kingdom Hall services after the opening song carrying a bible festooned with Post-It notes. Beginning in 2006, he knocked on doors as part of the small congregation, and when told that he “looked like Prince,” he shyly muttered, “It’s been said,” and continued with his porch proselytism. Fellow parishioners referred to “Brother Nelson” as “incredibly shy” and someone “who just wanted to be one of us.”

In 2004, Prince told CNBC News anchor Maria Bartiromo the following.

“I started studying the Bible once I changed my name back and started studying with my good friend Larry Graham. He helped me to just look at the Bible in a very practical way, to cut through all the dogma. I just wanted a clean, simple approach to it.”

Some, but not all, people of the Jehovah’s Witness faith renounce modern medical treatments and interventions, but enough do that it is safe to guess that Prince may have refused protease inhibitors and so-called “AIDS cocktail” treatments. Religious beliefs against blood transfusions could also have prevented the Purple One from undergoing the double hip replacement surgery he may have needed as long ago as 2005, as reported in The Guardian in 2009.

Now, about that conspiracy theory. Not to give too much credence to it, but in the name of looking at all angles, Alex Jones’ Info Wars reports a possible connection between Prince’s seemingly sudden demise and an “Illuminati-controlled music industry.” According to Jones, Prince “recently reclaimed” the rights to his own master tapes and was on the verge of a surge in record sales. Billboard Magazine notes that Prince’s truce and re-signing with Warner Brothers occurred two years ago in 2014.

However Prince passed away, we the people who are gathered to get through this thing called life may not know his official autopsy results for some time. Rolling Stone magazine says that conclusive autopsy results of the four-hour post-mortem examination may not be revealed for several more weeks.

[Photo by CAPmar/Media Punch/AP Images]