The stars all aligned at the 2016 BET Awards in celebration of the late Prince. Dave Chappelle kicked off the star-studded, multi-part tribute on Sunday, June 26, with a touching speech.
“We miss him so dearly, so tonight’s BET Awards are going to celebrate the rich legacy of this remarkable genius,” the 42-year-old comedian said.
Erykah Badu and The Roots hit the stage for the first tribute with a soulful rendition of the late singer’s 1987 deep cut “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” before Bilal belted “The Beautiful Ones,” one of the many hits from Prince’s iconic Purple Rain soundtrack.
Janelle Monáe celebrated her mentor with an electric medley of “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life” and “I Would Die 4 U.” At one point, she even bared her backside in a pair of white assless chaps, a clear nod to Prince’s racy 1991 MTV Video Music Awards costume.
Following Monáe’s performance, 2016 BET Awards host Anthony Anderson poked fun at the revealing outfit with own assless pants.
— Anthony Anderson (@anthonyanderson) June 27, 2016
Prince’s frequent collaborator and ex-fiancée Sheila E. closed the 2016 BET Awards with an epic medley of some of the entertainer’s biggest fan favorites, including “Erotic City,” “Let’s Work,” “The Glamorous Life” and “Baby I’m a Star.” After receiving a standing ovation, Sheila appeared to fight back tears as she looked out at the audience.
The Purple One was last honored at the Billboard Music Awards in May, almost one month after he was found unresponsive at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Longtime pal Madonna was the artist chosen to perform the tribute that night, but her performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U” (which Prince wrote) was largely panned on Twitter — and by BET.
“Yeah, we saw that,” the network tweeted. “Don’t worry. We got you.”
Wonder, 66, also joined Madonna onstage that night for a rousing rendition of “Purple Rain.”
Questlove, who performed with The Roots for Sunday night’s tribute, took to Twitter shortly after fans jumped to criticize Madonna’s Billboard Awards performance, reassuring fans that it was not an easy task for even The Material Girl to tackle.
“Naturally there will be folded arms & shade thrown because the Purple Standard is hard boots to fill & a lot of us don’t wanna come 2 grips,” he tweeted the next day. “Now anger is in the air w who (in our eyes) is allowed to mourn & how they are allowed to mourn. None of us were prepared for his death … But the point is let’s not get ugly w playing the ‘Prince would and wouldn’t approve’ game.”
Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator at his home on Thursday, April 21, after an accidental overdose of fentanyl.
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