Two years ago — April 21, 2016, to be exact — the world lost an icon.
Prince Rogers Nelson, the genius who gave the world “Purple Rain,” “Little Red Corvette,” “1999” and so many other hits and memorable concerts, died at 57 after collapsing in an elevator inside his landmark Paisley Park home outside of Minneapolis.
Less than a week prior to his death, which investigators concluded was from an accidental overdose of fentanyl-laced prescription drugs, Prince’s private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois after the singer was found unresponsive by handlers. Reportedly, he was revived by medics and eventually flew back to Minneapolis.
In the days after the plane incident and the time leading up to his death, Prince was photographed outside a Rite Aid pharmacy, presumably waiting for a prescription to be filled. Later, he was filmed riding a bicycle around Paisley Park just before dawn.
During his career, Prince released 39 albums, won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He sold more than 100 million albums over an illustrious career that began in the mid-1970s.
To his legions of fans, Prince was irreplaceable.
“I remember reading about his death and, even though it was right there in my face, I just kept thinking that it was some sort of bad joke,” said Tammi Huggins, 41, a Northeast resident who described herself as a lifelong Prince fan. “I come from a family of Prince fans. My father, my mother, my brother and my two uncles are huge Prince fans.”
Huggins recalls seeing Prince perform at the Warner Theatre in Northwest in June 2015 — less than one year before his death.
“He was with his girl group [3RDEYEGIRL] and it was right after the Freddie Gray concert,” Huggins said, referring to Prince’s earlier “Rally 4 Peace” charity concert in Baltimore in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray incident.
“I just kept yelling for him to sing ‘Purple Rain,’ and he did a shorter version of it and I just remember losing my mind,” Huggins said.
Syretta Peoples, who lives in Congress Heights, said she last saw Prince at D.C.’s Capital One Arena in 2004.
“That’s my regret,” Peoples said. “My regret is that it had been all those years ago and I’ll never see him again.”
Prince put on his usual high-octane show in which he opened with the title track to his hit “Musicology” album, Peoples, 43, recalled.
“He lit it up,” she said. “It was ‘Musicology,’ ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ ‘When Doves Cry,’ ‘Baby I’m a Star.’ It was off the hook, he pulled out all of his hits.”
Like most high-profile celebrities, Prince also had his share of stalkers. However, in true Prince fashion and unlike most big-name acts, the superstar faced one of his stalkers face to face.
In a 2008 interview with the New Yorker, the icon said that a woman he did not know would sometimes sit on swings in his private Paisley Park estate.
“So, I went out there one day and I was, like, ‘Hey, all my friends in there say you’re a stalker. And that I should call the police. But I don’t want to do that, so why don’t you tell me what you want to happen,” Prince told the magazine. “‘Why are you here? How do you want this to end?’ And she didn’t really have an answer for that. In the end, all she wanted was to be seen, for me to look at her. And she left and didn’t come back.”