Prince was found dead at his suburban Minneapolis mansion early Thursday morning, the artist's publicist confirmed to the AP.
The artist had been suffering from the flu, his people said, during the past few weeks and had to cancel several shows in his "Piano and Microphone" tour. His last performance was in Atlanta last Thursday night.
ABC News said the Carver County Sheriff's Department has now launched an investigation into the death at the Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The singer-songwriter-producer wunderkind began his recording career in 1978 with the For You LP, and later came to international prominence with the 1982 release of the 1999 LP. The Purple Rain LP and motion picture cemented Prince's position in R&B history, and more generally, in pop culture.