Written by Emilee Lindner • Photography by Getty Images • April 21, 2017
The world was in shock when the legendary music icon, Prince, passed away on April 21, 2016. With no proper words to sum up the innovator's career, many did what we only knew how to do: turn to his music.
Prince inspired thousands of musicians, so his impact was felt hundred-fold on the music scene, and in the past year, we've gotten incredible tributes to the singer/songwriter/musician/virtuoso who had more talent than we could ever fathom.
Watch below as we break down some of the best Prince tributes that have landed in the past year -- from award show performances to one-off concerts to late-night monologues:
At the recent ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lenny Kravitz sang "When Doves Cry" with a gospel twist. The choir of singers will blow you away when you listen back, sending you to a more holy place. The band, all armed with tambourines, was highlighted by a blistering guitar solo that Prince would've been proud of -- and Prince was hard to please.
On late-night television, talkshow hosts had the impossible task of summing up Prince's impact after his passing. Since Jimmy Fallon had just celebrated Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary with Prince, he had many stories to tell. But the one about Prince's love for ping pong was the most hilarious. On The Tonight Show, Questlove and Fallon told the story about how Prince beat Fallon in table tennis, only to disappear after the game. The story perfectly encapsulated Prince's silly-yet-serious personality, along with the more mysterious facets of him.
The 2017 Grammys paid homage to Prince with appearances by his band, The Time, who worked very closely with The Purple One. Bruno Mars also jumped in, donning a Prince-y purple suit and fluffy shirt and shredding on a funky guitar, just as Prince once would have. The tribute tied in both the new and the old, having The Time burst out a blast from the past, while having Mars show how much influence he had over younger artists.
The tensions were high when the Minnesota Wild went into Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2016 ready to challenge the Dallas Stars (they ended up losing, but that's OK). But the arena certainly hyped up the crowd with an insane light show, which switched to a tribute to Prince halfway through. Prince has always been all about Minnesota, so it was a proper way to remember one of their own. The light show doused the ice rink in purple as the instrumental to "Purple Rain" played and images of Prince's face flashed on the Jumbotron.
At the L.A. Master Chorale's 27th Annual High School Choir Festival, 1,000 voices lifted up Prince's "Purple Rain." Captured in this video by the L.A. Times, a soloist started up the heartfelt ballad, which turned in an all-out singalong with people harmonizing from the stage, the seats and the rafters. Onlookers clapped along, and the performance accomplished what music is supposed to do: bring people together.
Prince's longtime collaborator and former fiancée was the perfect person to honor his music. Sheila E toured with Prince back in the '80s, and he proposed to her while she was playing drums in "Purple Rain." But she didn't play that song during the BET Awards tribute -- instead, she went for more of the upbeat collaborations, like "Erotic City," "A Love Bizarre," "Baby I'm A Star" and "U Got The Look."
Bruce Springsteen took "Purple Rain" for a spin at a concert in Brooklyn just two days after Prince's death. The concert was an emotional one, with Bruce leading a grungier version of the tune. Nils Lofgren took charge of the guitar solo, squealing out some high-fret magic just as Springsteen started an arena-wide singalong of the vocal melody at the end.
Chris Stapleton, the king of modern rustic country, gave "Nothing Compares 2 U" a heartfelt cover during his concert in Los Angeles just days after Prince's passing. Although the track was pulled together quickly by Stapleton, his passion makes the performance well worth the watch. His band adds in steel guitar and harmonica -- something you probably wouldn't hear in Prince's music, proving that Prince's songwriting is genius in any genre.
The cast of Broadway's The Color Purple led a rousing, rapturous rendition of "Purple Rain" after a production of one of their shows. Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo served up their best belts, leaving listeners with chills on every limb.
It wouldn't be a proper Prince tribute without Morris Day & The Time, would it? Along with their Grammys performance that would come a few months later, Morris Day popped up in Cleveland to play a few songs written with Prince, like "Get It Up" and "Cool."
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