'Saturday Night Live' relives Prince's iconic performances with tribute show

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Two days after Prince's death, NBC's Saturday Night Live dedicated this weekend's episode, aptly titled "Goodnight Sweet Prince," to all the performances from The Purple One in Studio 8H.

Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon opened the tribute show with a sentimental monologue. "Prince has been a special presence at Saturday Night Live for the last four decades from his debut as a 22-year-old in 1981 to his surprise performance at the after-party for SNL's 40th anniversary," he said. "There was always something about a Prince performance. It was special. It was an event." He also said Prince had "never not been cool" and that "he owns purple."

Click through images of Prince and Beyoncé at the 2004 Grammys:

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Prince and Beyoncé at the 2004 Grammys
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'Saturday Night Live' relives Prince's iconic performances with tribute show
PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2004 - Singers Beyonce (L) and Prince (R) perform during the 46th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles February 8, 2004. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn REUTERS PJ/GMH Also see image GF1DUVGAJOAA
Singers Prince (L) and Beyonce perform during the 46th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles February 8, 2004. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn PJ
Prince and Beyonce perform a medley of his hits during The 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)
Prince and Beyonce perform a medly of his hits during The 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)
Prince and Beyonce perform a medley of his hits (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Musical Artist Prince (L) and Singer Byonce Knowles perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and Musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Prince (R) and Beyonce (L) perform the opening act of the 46th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles 08 February 2004. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and Musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and Musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Prince (L) and Beyonce (R) perform the opening act of the 46th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles 08 February 2004. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer Beyonce Knowles performs Purple Rain with musician Prince at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and Musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles and Musician Prince perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
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Prince & Friends: Photos of His Performances Over the Years

The first clip of the night was a throwback look at Prince's "Partyup" performance on the SNL stage in 1981. Up next was Prince's dark and foggy rendition of "Electric Chair" for SNL's 15th anniversary special in 1989, fresh off the release of his Batman album, explaining the large Batman logo in his backdrop.


The scene was hot and heavy when actor Steve Martin introduced the orange suit-clad Prince (joined by an trio of female dancers), who pumped out a smooth performances of "Fury", a note to scorned women, in 2006. The record appeared on his 3121 album released that year. A bit of Prince's humorous side showed following his "Beautiful, Loved & Blessed" performance featuring singer Tamar from the same episode, where he winked at former SNL castmember Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher character by yelling "Superstar!"

'SNL' to Pay Tribute to Prince With Clip Show

The calendar then flipped to 2014 when Prince performed with Lianne La Havas for their Art Official Age duet "Clouds" against a cloudy-turned-celestial backdrop. With his band 3RDEYEGIRL and signature love symbol prominent on the mic stand, Prince let it rip on the guitar before launching into "Marz" from the PlectrumElectrum LP and a cover of Alice Smith's "Another Love."

Fallon then shared his memories of the epic, star-studded SNL 40th anniversary after-party in 2015. "It was the most unbelievable night," he said. "Lorne [Michaels] set up instruments, no band. 'If people feel like playing and jamming out, let them do it.'" A-listers including Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Elvis Costello and Debbie Harry took the stage for an impromptu show. Comedian Dave Chappelle then tipped Fallon off that Prince was in the building. "Prince, if you're in the room, I dare you to come up and sing something for us," Fallon said, adding that it was about 4:30 in the morning. The crowd parted and Prince emerged. "You see this little afro floating towards you," he recalled. Prince then "destroyed" his performance of "Let's Go Crazy" (Chris Rock and Maya Rudolph were also spotted on-stage beside him) for the night's grand finale before, naturally, floating off stage.

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No SNL tribute show would be complete without shining the spotlight on The Prince Show, where comic Fred Armisen would play Prince (alongside Rudolph as co-host Beyonce). Among the faux talk-show guests over the years included Queen Latifah as Patti LaBelle, Amy Poehler as Sharon Stone and on a separate episode, Nancy Grace, Steve Martin as his personal chef, Shia LaBeouf as Spiderman star Tobey Maguire and on the Christmas special, Robert De Niro. Whether whispering or donning a crispy purple suit, Armisen's Prince always brought the LOLs. You can almost imagine Prince watching his SNL highlight reel with a charming smirk.


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