The artist known as Prince, reported dead Thursday at the age of 57, had recently wowed crowds in San Francisco and Oakland, giving a surprise concert at the Paramount Theater and getting a standing ovation at the Oracle Arena when the artist showed up at a Warriors game.
The musician best known for his hit song, “Purple Rain,” had been fighting the flu for several weeks, the singer's rep told the Associated Press. His death shocked the country. The news was so devastating to some, that they couldn't speak, and even had to turn off the radio, which played a continual stream of Prince hits, from "When Doves Cry" to "1999."
"I was at work when my parents texted me and were like, 'Yo, did you know Prince died?' " Jared Boone, 22, of Berkeley said Thursday after hearing the news broken to him at his job at Oracle in Redwood City. "I started thinking about Michael Jackson and how abruptly he died in his 50s. I had a flashback of that."
Some thought the Great Purple looked a bit frail when he was seen sitting courtside March 3 at the Oracle Arena, while watching the Golden State Warriors tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those in attendance cheered and stood as the singer, clad in dark sunglasses and big Afro, passed by.
"That night was a real honor for me and, looking back, he appeared to be doing well and was in great spirits," Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in a statement. The two sat next to each other during the game. "From everyone in the Warriors’ organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and millions of fans during this difficult time. We lost a true icon in the entertainment business.”
The following night Prince gave a performance at the same arena, during his “Piano and Microphone” tour, which kicked off in February. Right after that March 4 show, Prince sent out a surprise announcement, saying he'd play at an afterparty in San Francisco at the Great American Musical Hall from 12:30 a.m. all the way to just about sunrise. That was his last show in the Bay Area.
Boone, whose parents taught him to love the mysterious and enigmatic Prince, had seen the singer that night in Oakland. He too, thought Prince looked thin, but said he gave an energetic concert, singing and then hopping on a bicycle in between songs to head offstage. "It was great," Boone said. "There was no band, just him on the piano."
Prince also played the piano on Feb. 28, when he gave two more intimate, and quickly announced, concerts at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, where adoring fans plunked down $300 a ticket. Then, after a marathon night of music, Prince showed up without much notice in San Francisco at the 1015 Folsom nightclub.
Photos of the musician performing at those concerts are scarce. Prince didn’t allow photos or video to be taken at his performances; his guards were told to confiscate anyone documenting his acts. He told his audiences he wanted them to be present for his pieces. Still, Boone said he had snuck some Snapchat video of the artist onto his phone, and felt lucky he had taken those visuals.
Prince had first come to the Bay Area in mid-February to attend the funeral in Union City of his longtime friend and mentor, Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity. She and Prince had been lovers for a few years in the 1980s.