Prince's Longtime Friend Apollonia Kotero Opens Up About His Private World and Her Devastation After His Death
It's been six years since Prince's death from an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2016 but for his longtime friend Apollonia Kotero, the memories will never fade.
"I got to a restaurant and 'Purple Rain' comes on or I get in my car and 'Take Me with U' comes on," says Kotero of two of the music icon's biggest hits. "No matter how much time goes by, he's everywhere. I see him in everything."
Friends for nearly four decades, Apollonia and Prince first connected when she auditioned for the romantic lead in Purple Rain.
"He was very gentle and very shy," recalls Apollonia, who now hosts a podcast, Apollonia Studio 6. "I remember he had spaghetti. And I never knew in that moment that my odyssey with Prince would last a lifetime."
Kotero, who later toured with Apollonia 6, the singing trio Prince created for Purple Rain, stayed close with him over the years, through frequent late-night phone calls ("he never slept," she recalls) and visits to Los Angeles or his Minnesota home.
"We were family," she says. "We trusted each other." And though they never dated, "I had a little mini crush one time," she admits. "He was performing 'Computer Blue' and he was oily and shirtless and for a moment I was like, 'He's really sexy,' but then I got myself together. We had great chemistry. But our romance was only onscreen."
The pair also occasionally acted more like brother and sister. Says Kotero: "He was a prankster! He'd put salt in my desserts. And he was competitive! He challenged us, but he also brought out the best of us. He was a perfectionist."
"The fame became a challenge for him," she says. "He was modest. But he became alive on stage and became the Prince we all know and love."
The last time Kotero would ever see her beloved friend, at a party just weeks before his untimely death, she recalls a more subdued Prince.
"He was a little quiet and he didn't look the same," she says. "Out of the blue he said, 'Some people think I look too thin,'" but then he shrugged his shoulders. When we said goodbye, I told him I loved him, and he told me, 'I love you too.'"
In the days following his death, "I became severely depressed," she says. "It was horrible."
Thanks to the help of therapy, Kotero was able to move through her grief — and hold close the pieces of their friendship that stand the test of time.
"Prince gave me beautiful gifts," she says. "He is my legacy. And he will live on forever."
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