The Weeknd said Prince "helped me push the envelope forever"

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
May 22, 2016 09:00 PM

The Weeknd picked up the very first trophy at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday – and emotionally dedicated his victory to Prince.

The Canadian-born musician, 26, was named the Top Hot 100 Artist of the year, and his voice cracked when he spoke about how much Prince, who died last month, meant to him.

“I want to dedicate this award to the late, great Prince. Rest in Peace,” he said. “I was told not long ago that his last TV appearance he had given me an award. That was the greatest experience of my entire life and I love him so much.”

Prince presented the award for best soul/R&B album to The Weeknd at the American Music Awards last November.

The Weeknd
Kevin Winter/Getty

The musician then choked up when he told the crowd that the iconic singer will forever serve as a mentor.

“I didn’t know him but he was very close to me and he will always be an inspiration and helped me push the envelope forever and [for] every artist I hope,” he said.

“Rest in Peace Prince, I love you,” he concluded.

Girlfriend Bella Hadid congratulated her man, writing, “I’m so proud of you baby! …hardest working man I know and the MOST deserving!!! Pays off!!! Congrats @abelxo”

The Weeknd is the most-nominated musician at the awards show, serving as a finalist 19 times in 16 categories. He ended up taking home eight awards including Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Song Sales Artist, Top Radio Songs Artist, Top Streaming Songs Artist, Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Album, Top Streaming Song (Audio) and Top R&B Song.

He beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Fetty Wap and Taylor Swift for the Top Hot 100 Artist award, which represents the five artists whose songs performed the best on the Billboard chart this past year.