brightcove.createExperiences(); Prince‘s first wife Mayte Garcia is mourning the loss of her former spouse telling PEOPLE, “This man was my everything, we had a family. I am beyond deeply saddened and devastated.”
Here, PEOPLE takes a look at their loving relationship that would ultimately end in tragedy.
For three seasons (from 2012 – 2014), Garcia, 42, was featured as a cast member on VH1’s reality series Hollywood Exes in which she opened up about her failed marriage to Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) as well as where they first met and how they fell in love.
It was in 1990 when Garcia met the late music legend at a concert in Spain at just 16-years-old. Her mother Janelle, a big Prince fan, had passed on a video cassette of her daughter performing belly dancing routines to one of Prince’s backup dancers. Five days later after watching the tape, Prince – who was previously engaged to Susannah Melvoin – hired Garcia to dance with his Diamonds and Pearls tour. His fondness for her even enabled her to record English and Spanish vocals for his albums.
Six years later on Valentine’s Day 1996, Prince and Garcia – who was 22 at the time – wed in his hometown Minneapolis. The muse behind his 1995 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” designed her own wedding dress with the help of Prince’s wardrobe designer. “I can’t really pinpoint a time when it became romantic, I just think it evolved through the heavens,” she said in her cast profile interview for season 1 of Hollywood Exes. “Being a wife, I loved it. He’s true to what you guys think, of course, he’s a human being.”
Two months later, Garcia was pregnant.
In late 1996, Garcia gave birth to the couple’s son, Boy Gregory. However, the newborn would only live a week after being born with Pfeiffer syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the skull and bones in the hands and feet. The death of their son devastated them both.
“It was really sad. I think he was really looking forward to being a father,” Prince’s dancer Lindsley Allen, who worked with the 7-time Grammy winner from 1992 – 1997 on The World In A Day tour, shares with PEOPLE. “It was very difficult for them and I don’t think they really recovered from that. I felt a very paternal feeling from him but yet that was something that he never really had known.”
Adding, “I remember they had built a swing set out in the back and they had a playroom built.”
Fondly remembering the better times between them, Allen said: “They had a great love for each other. They had a twinkle in their eye.” She added: “They definitely loved working together. In the studio it seemed like they had a great respect for one and other. He loved her as a beautiful dancer and her heart and soul is very genuine and sweet.”
Soon after Boy Gregory’s death, Garcia became pregnant and miscarried. The death of their two children would take a toll on their marriage. “To lose two babies is really scary. It really caught on me emotionally, physically, everything. It took me at least 15 years to get over it and still, to this day, I miss my son,” she later shared to the Mirror. “I believe a child dying between a couple either makes you stronger or it doesn’t. For me, it was very, very hard to move forward and for us as a couple I think it probably broke us.”
Prince and Garcia’s union was annulled on their 3-year anniversary in 1999 and they were officially divorced in 2000.
“When I got divorced, it was another culture shock. It was going from this world I had been into since the age of 16 to literally standing on the streets of New York in kind of shock,” Garcia said in her VH1 interview. “I became a hermit. I didn t go out much because I was scared to go out because you re so used to being protected.”
A year later in 2001, Prince married Testolini Nelson, a former employee at Prince’s charitable foundation. She filed for divorce in 2006.
Celebrities React to Prince’s Sudden Death
The music icon was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on Thursday, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office announced. He was 57. Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator about 9:45 a.m. after sheriff’s deputies received a call for medical help from his Paisley Park Studios home. He was pronounced dead less than 25 minutes later, authorities in Minnesota say. A cause of death has not been determined.
“The world has lost a truly incredible spirit and musical genius. What a blessing it is to be one of the chosen ones who had the chance to work so closely with him,” Electra, 44, told PEOPLE following Prince’s death.
“The meaning of the word loss has taken on a new meaning this day,” Sheila E. said to PEOPLE in a statement. “Thank God love lives forever.”
• Reporting by MIA MCNIECE