Sheila E. Says That, Five Years After Prince's Death, Grief Still Hits Her 'at the Drop of a Hat'
Sheila E., 63, marked the five-year anniversary of the superstar's tragic death during a conversation on Wednesday's episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, where she opened up to host Janine Rubenstein about coming to terms with life post-Prince, to whom she was engaged in the '80s.
"It's gotten easier to look at things and talk about it," the percussionist and singer says. "But then at the drop of a hat, just like one song or one verse of something or a picture, and I'm going, [sigh]."
"We met in 1977," she says. "It's a lot of time that we spent together either laughing, hanging out, creating, playing, recording, telling stories, going to the movies, whatever it may be, traveling the world, going to Europe, whatever. Just to go have lunch."
Prince was found dead on April 21, 2016 at his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He was 57.
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After the heartbreaking news was announced at the time, Sheila E. (whose stint drumming in Prince's band led to their brief romantic relationship) told PEOPLE in a statement, "The meaning of the word loss has taken on a new meaning this day. Thank God love lives forever."
Looking back on her bond with the "Purple Rain" singer, Sheila E. told Rubenstein that the pair shared "a lot of great memories" together. She even revealed that the iconic one-legged outfits she wore on tour with the musician ended up leading to an insurance policy on her left leg for $1 million.
"My left leg that was shown all the time [in] that outfit, so I ended up talking to management," she says. "And instead of insuring my hands and my wrists, which is my livelihood ... my left leg was insured for a million dollars. What the heck?"
She continues to keep their memories alive; last year, Sheila E. paid tribute to Prince at the 2020 Grammy Awards, during a medley with Usher and FKA twigs which featured covers of Prince's hits "Little Red Corvette," "When Doves Cry," and "Kiss."
"It's even someone had mentioned a couple of days ago. They're like, 'Wow, it's going to be five [years]. It's coming up,' " Sheila E. says. "And I'm thinking, 'Oh, here we go, April.' ... That's all I can think about. 'Well, here's April.' "
"So it stirs up emotional feelings, good and bad," she admits. "He was just incredible. What a genius and incredible songwriter; my favorite guitar player of all time."
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