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 was to be part of something so huge.
It was April 21, 2016, when the world woke up to an incredible headline: music icon Prince had died at the age of 57.
He was found dead in his home in Paisley Park, Minneapolis, after taking what he thought was Vicodin, but turned out to be a counterfeit painkiller containing fentanyl.
It’s been six years since that day, and in reflection, NBCLA reporter Beverly White and photographer David Gregory talk about what that day was like from the perspective of a reporter 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 has to say it. Why not me?” said White. “I was honored to be included on the cover of Prince.”
White remembers racing at LAX, adrenaline rush.
Finally on the plane, she had a moment to soak in, and she cried a little.
“When we got there, of course, we started running,” Gregory said. “The first stop was First Avenue – I think that’s where they shot ‘Purple Rain’.”
The place was crowded. A crowd had formed inside and outside.
They staged a ‘Purple Rain’ marathon as people danced at the location described as ‘an ancient depot that has hosted and launched many names’. “Purple Rain” made it iconic though.
People were dancing, crying, dancing and crying.
“And the club stayed open until 7 a.m., by the way, because 7 was Prince’s favorite number,” White said.
After that, they went to the hotel and collapsed from exhaustion.
The following day, the fan stories and outpourings of emotion continued.
“Almost everywhere you went, someone had a Prince story,” White said.
The hotel, the airport, in the streets: people shared how the music icon made them feel and wept openly.
Acres and acres of fans wearing all shades of purple set the scene at Paisley Park.
“He lived in this community for a reason,” White said.
Fans described to White and Gregory how Prince poured it all back into the community and how the little 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 damn it, we felt nothing but love the whole time we were in Minneapolis,” White said. .
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