"In getting to know him as a friend and collaborator, I found that special something, in that special someone, which a girl dreams about," the drummer tells PEOPLE of her special relationship with the legendary performer
After the music icon died in April, Sheila E. (short for Escovedo) was moved to write a track to pay tribute to him.
An emotional piano ballad, “Girl Meets Boy” and its accompanying music video, premiering exclusively with PEOPLE, finds the famous drummer poignantly reminiscing on her 38 years of friendship with Prince.
“I was just a girl / and when I saw your face, you were just a boy / But you rocked my world / and deep inside, I know that I did the same / I let your love rain down on me,” sings the musician, 58. Forgoing her customary drums, she breaks down in tears on a piano bench, as a tattoo of Prince’s love symbol is visible on her left forearm, and pictures from their youth flash in the clip. “When you left, it rained on me.”
In addition to the aching song, Sheila E. – who performed a heartfelt medley of Prince songs at the BET Awards Sunday – wrote a tribute to her departed pal exclusively for PEOPLE:
There have been so many thoughts, words, emotions, and memories shared as a result of the loss of Prince. Even reading those last three words seem surreal.
When we first met at a concert, as the story has been told, he was an aspiring artist, unbeknownst to most, and to my surprise, a fan of Sheila Escovedo. We were both child-like, embarking on a journey in an industry where innocence is a commodity and dreams are lost everyday. Months later, I found myself in an audience screaming at the antics of a boy who had become somewhat of a wild child since I met him. Prince was still just a kid, but the energy and musicianship that he displayed implied that he was going to be a man whose force no one could reckon with. Needless to say, now it was I who was the fan.
In getting to know him as a friend and collaborator, I found that special something, in that special someone, which a girl dreams about and, secretly, hopes for. We played as children will, we laughed, we dared, and we challenged; not only each other but also the world and industry that said a girl couldn’t and a boy shouldn’t. He believed in me and I believed in him.
In being chosen to open for Prince during The Purple Rain Tour, we embraced our growth together, as artists and as people. We still played as children will, but the world of sparse innocence and demand of dreams took its toll and the child like laughter was replaced by the responsibilities of adult life. But for Prince, that was only another challenge and instead of retreating, he boldly went forth, like a fairytale Prince might do, which only encouraged me to follow. More collaboration, more music, and tours would follow. He, leading the band and the masses. Me, pounding on drums and providing rhythm to the music the world loved, for a man whom I loved.
As time often does in the lives of girls and boys, we drifted apart, but never away. He grew into a conqueror of rules, and a provider of dreams for millions.
I still, and always will, provide the rhythm of his music and memory, whether through my music, drums, words, or the beating of my heart.
Until we play again, rest in peace. Sheila E.
Sheila E. and Prince began working in the studio together shortly after they met in 1978, collaborating on her 1984 hit “The Glamourous Life” and touring and playing together on and off for years.
Prince was 57 when he was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on April 21. Six weeks later, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office released a statement revealing he had died of an accidental opioid overdose after self-administering the prescription painkiller fentanyl. Having left no will behind, the fate of the icon’s estimated $250 million estate remains unsettled.