MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Sunday’s rain fits Shelia E’s heartbreak. The musician, former collaborator and former fiancée of Prince was by his side for years, including the night in 1987 when Prince asked her to marry him on stage while performing one of her favorites: Purple Rain.
“It's hard. The family is suffering and in pain right now. It's hard to swallow and realize he's done and he's not coming back,” she said. “There’s 38 years of memories all balled into one emotion right now. There are many great moments.”
But it's the moments leading up to Prince's passing many still have questions about. Reports from TMZ and other outlets are swirling about the music icon struggling with hip problems, and later issues with prescription painkillers like Percocet, plus other reports about Prince looking frail.
Shelia E calls it all rumors, and says she most recently tried to reach out to Prince after reports about his plane making an emergency landing in Illinois.
“I know he had a cold, the flu,” she said. “Nobody likes being sick. But he's like an athlete. We're all athletes when we do these 2 to 3 hour marathons. It's challenging to play. I called him last week when I heard he wasn't feeling well and he was resting.”
Shelia E was shocked to find herself at Paisley Park days later, attending a private memorial Saturday focused on Prince's cremated remains. Only about two dozen people closest to Prince attended, including his sister, Tyka Nelson, his former bass player Larry Graham and model Damaris Lewis.
Shelia E says they are overwhelmed by the love pouring out for Prince across the Minnesota and from around the world. She'll miss her friend, but adds his legacy of music is all he ever wanted.
“I think he has the best fans in the world, and leaving that legacy behind and appreciating with what he gave while he was here -- we should cherish that.”
PRINCE DEATH INVESTIGATION: Latest news from sheriff and medical examiner