Saturday Night Live remembered Prince with an hour-long episode titled “Goodnight Sweet Prince” that boasted all of the icon’s SNL performances as well as sketches inspired by the singer. “Prince has been a special presence here at Saturday Night Live for the last four decades, from his debut on the show as a 22-year-old in 1981 to his surprise performance at the after party for the SNL 40th anniversary,” Jimmy Fallon said in his touching preface for the episode.
“Tonight we wanted to pay tribute to him by looking back at his performances on the show over the years and by remembering what he meant to us,” Fallon added. “Other people may have been on the show more times or performed more frequently, but there was always something different about a Prince performance: It was special, it was an event. It was Prince. Times have changed, styles have come and gone but no matter what, Prince has never not been cool.”
The episode then rewound to Prince’s first SNL visit in 1981 where he played “Party Up.” That was followed by his 1989 performance on SNL‘s 15th anniversary episode, where he delivered the Batman soundtrack’s “Electric Chair.”
After Prince’s 2006 SNL guest spot where he played 3121‘s “Fury” and “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed,” the episode re-aired Prince’s final SNL performance, an astounding 2014 visit that featured an eight-minute medley of Art Official Age‘s “Clouds” and Plectrumelectrum‘s “Marz” and “AnotherLove.”
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In addition to the musical guest spots and Prince-inspired sketches, the special also broadcast video of Prince’s impromptu performance at the all-star SNL 40 after party in February 2015; footage of the never-before-seen rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” had leaked earlier in the day.
Fallon initially told the story of how he recruited Prince to take the Plaza Hotel stage on The Tonight Show, and on “Goodnight Sweet Prince,” Fallon further detailed the chance performance. (The alternate angle of the SNL 40 performance also revealed that Arcade Fire’s Win Butler was onstage for “Let’s Go Crazy.”)
The episode closed out with three SNL segments where Fred Armisen portrayed Prince in “The Prince Show,” a reoccurring sketch that also starred noted Prince devotee Maya Rudolph.
Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Watch his incredible solo here.