The lack of and dire need for an official memorial with which to celebrate and pay tribute to Prince has resulted in a series of tribute shows organised by former band mates spring up instead. Albeit an event organised by the family is due to take place in August and may involve the reunion of the Revolution. But in the wake of Madonna’s lackluster rendition of Nothing Compares 2 U for the Billboard Awards the previous month and drew heavy criticism, the baton with which the award season to remember Prince passed to BET to celebrate his legacy with an event where substance was granted greater priority over one singer’s ego.
Immediately after Madonna’s rather poor effort, BET began their promotion in earnest, promising Prince fans “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We got you.” They tasked former band mate and one time girlfriend Sheila E. to put together a more passionate tribute for their Sunday 26 June ceremony at the Microsoft Theatre.
She assembled a stellar cast, Sheila leading a medley of hits with the support of cameos from Jerome Benton, Liv Warfield, Mayte Garcia, and Twinz Nandy and Maya McLean. The performance itself was a high octane medley of fan favourites comprising of Housequake, Erotic City, Let’s Work, U Got The Look, A Love Bizarre, Glamorous Life, America, and ending with Baby I’m a Star. After which Sheila held aloft Prince’s purple Cloud guitar, and tears of emotion rolled down her face. She remarked that the performance, which was put together over 2.5 days, had left her emotionally drained. A tour is in the works and Sheila E is also working on a new album, inspired by the music of Prince.
It is understood Benton was a late addition to the line up and that BET were also hoping to get Morris Day to appear. Day, however, was in London performing two shows with The Time at the Hammersmith Apollo, 24 and 25 June as the headline act for Prince: A Tribute, a charity event hosted by Autism Rocks. The Time played their first shows in the UK since the early 1980s and were joined by Larry Graham and CeeLo Green. Larry was particularly emotional, recounting the first time he met Prince and covered hits such as Purple Rain, Baby I’m A Star, and 1999. Among his own hits CeeLo also performed Prince tracks, Diamonds And Pearls and The Beautiful Ones. The event closed with all the performers returning to the stage behind Prince’s symbol microphone spotlit in purple lights and with Purple Rain playing. It was a touching experience both for the performers and the audience. Prince played his final ever UK show for the charity at KoKo in Camden, London on 2 February 2015 (his second in aid of Autism Rocks, the first having taken place on 20 May 2014).
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