BET Awards pays tribute to Prince with The Roots, Erykah Badu & more

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Tracee Ellis Ross Talks Prince Celebration at 2016 BET Awards

Announcements of the BET Awards' Prince tributes made it seems as if it would be a single performance involving D'Angelo, The Roots and others. But as the show began, it became clear that there would be a series of tributes throughout the night.

Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar Open the 2016 BET Awards

The first one came up just 35 minutes into the show, as Dave Chappelle, wearing shades and a purple pocket square in his jacket and speaking in a surprisingly husky voice. "On April 21, we got that news, and literally our hearts were broken," he said, as the camera flashed to Spike Lee (wearing a knit purple hat) and Samuel L. Jackson in the audience. "I was 11 years old when Purple Rain came out, and by the time I was 20, Prince had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. ...; We miss him dearly. And tonight we celebrate the rich legacy of this remarkable genius, who we are all so proud of."

PHOTOS: Check out the BET Awards 2016 arrivals

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2016 BET Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
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2016 BET Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
Taraji P. Henson (Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Gabrielle Union (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Andra Day (Getty)
Meagan Good (Photo by Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)
DJ Khaled  (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Naturi Naughton (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Mya  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Janelle Monae  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Tracee Ellis Ross a (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 French Montana  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Bryshere Y. Gray  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Fantasia Barrino is wearing a spike earring and cross necklace (worn as a bracelet) by La Soula and a cuff bracelet by Tulah Jem.  

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

Tisha Campbell-Martin  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Jesse Williams (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Samuel L. Jackson (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Tia Mowry  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Quvenzhane Wallis (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
MzVee  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Sophie Beem  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Karrueche Tran (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Yara Shahidi  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Loni Love  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Orlando Jones  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Nandi Mngoma  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Millen Magese  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Mara  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Danielle Mone Truitt (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Remy Ma (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Yvette Nicole Brown  and Marcus Scribner (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Jasmine Sanders (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
LeToya Luckett  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Diamond Platnumz  (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Marcus Scribner (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Katlynn Simone (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Morris Chestnut (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Zulay Henao (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Eva Marcille  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Anthony Anderson  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Jermaine Dupri (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
 Miles Brown (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 2 Chainz  (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
 Questlove  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Kristal Lyndriette, Ashley Williams, Shyann Roberts, Brienna DeVlugt and Gabby Carreiro of June's Diary (Photo by Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)
 Desiigner (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Regina Hall (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Samamat (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Anthony Hamilton  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Irv Gotti (L) and recording artist Ashley Martelle  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Mayte Garcia (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Marsai Martin (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
 The Roots  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Fabolous  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
MAJOR. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actress Lela Loren attends the Make A Wish VIP Experience at the 2016 BET Awards on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actor Rob Hardy (L) and Shaun Hardy attend the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Singer Anthony Brown attends the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actress Tasha Smith attends the Make A Wish VIP Experience at the 2016 BET Awards on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Singer Tinashe attends the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actor Keith Powers attends the Nissan red carpet during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
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The then introduced his "old friends" the Roots, Erykah Badu and Bilal.

Stevie Wonder Joins Announced Prince Tribute at 2016 BET Awards

First up was Badu -- wearing a black beret, a white fake fur stole and leather pants and what seemed to be a giant purple paper arm corsage – doing a flawless version of "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" from 1987's classic Sign O' the Times LP. Her sultry voice was perfect for the song's jazzy melody and the band – who have played the song before at Prince tributes -- matched the song's arrangement perfectly, even throwing in his vintage 808 electronic drum sound. What was most surprising was the number of celebrities in the audience (Taraji P. Henson, Jackson, BET's Stephen Hill) who knew the words to this relatively deep cut.

Bilal -- who goes so far back with the Roots and Prince tributes that he performed with them at one at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1999 – was next with Purple Rain's "The Beautiful Ones," which he nailed in a near-flawless falsetto. However, and not to be cruel, the cameras flashed on Maxwell as the song began, which did make one wonder how he would have handled the song (especially in light of his gorgeous falsetto version of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work").

One thing Maxwell almost definitely wouldn't have done, however, was the sprawling, floor-humping and shrieking Bilal did at the end of the song, mimicking Prince's moves from the film comically but respectfully. Bilal did not miss his moment.

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