Watch the full episode of ‘I Was There When…” in the player above, as Beverly White and David Gregory recount what it was like to cover one of the biggest stories, and what it felt like to be a part of something so huge.
It was April 21, 2016, when the world woke up to an unbelievable headline: music icon Prince was dead at the age of 57.
He was found dead in his Paisley Park, Minneapolis, home after taking what he thought was Vicodin but turned out to be a counterfeit painkiller that was laced with fentanyl.
It’s been six years since that day, and reflecting back, NBCLA reporter Beverly White and photographer David Gregory talk about what that day was like from the viewpoint of a journalist who is also grieving the news.
“I couldn’t believe I was hearing what I was hearing,” Gregory said.
They traveled to Minneapolis to cover the heartbreaking news.
“You want that call. You hate the news, but someone’s got to tell it. Why not me?” White said. “I was honored to be included in the Prince coverage.”
White recalls racing to LAX, adrenaline high.
Finally on the plane, she had a moment to let it soak in, and she cried a bit.
“When we first got there of course, we hit the ground running,” Gregory said. “The first stop was First Avenue — I think that’s where they shot ‘Purple rain.'”
The place was packed. A crowd had formed inside and out.
They had a “Purple Rain” marathon on as people danced at the venue described as “an old depot have hosted and launched many name acts.” “Purple Rain” made it iconic though.
People were dancing, and crying, and dancing, and crying.
“And the club stayed open til 7 a.m., by the way, because 7 was Prince’s favorite number,” White said.
After that, they went to the hotel and collapsed of exhaustion.
The next day, the stories and outpouring of emotion from fans continued.
“Pretty much every where you went, someone had a Prince story,” White said.
The hotel, the airport, in the streets: people were sharing how the music icon made them feel, and openly weeping.
Acres and acres of fans wearing every shade of purple set the scene in Paisley Park.
“He lived in that community for a reason,” White said.
Fans described to White and Gregory how Prince poured everything back into the community, and how the small town boy shared his love.
They talked about how he didn’t just make music you could hear — he made music you could feel.
“Not to overstate the obvious, but some scenes we get to — we’re not welcome. But boy howdy, we felt nothing but love the entire time we were in Minneapolis,” White said.