Saturday Night Live lit up Studio 8H in purple this weekend to honor one of the show’s most iconic musical guests: Prince.
The Prince tribute episode, fittingly titled “Goodnight, Sweet Prince,” honored the late musician’s best performances on the show, as well as some of the many times he’s been portrayed in sketches by Fred Armisen.
Host Jimmy Fallon kicked off the special by donning a purple tie and reflecting on Prince’s SNL legacy, which spanned four decades of performances.
“Other people may have been on the show more times or performed more frequently, but there was always something different about a Prince performance,” Fallon said. “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 rest of the show included some of Prince’s most memorable performances, beginning with his first-ever appearance on the show in 1981, when a 22-year-old Prince performed “Party Up.” Other highlights include his performances of “Electric Chair” in 1989 and “Fury” and “Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed” in 2006.
For the first time ever, SNL also aired footage from last year’s SNL 40th anniversary afterparty, where Prince took the stage at 4:30 a.m. at the Plaza Hotel for an impromptu performance with Fallon, Maya Rudolph, Bill Murray, Chris Rock, and more.
Fallon told the story of how he served as an impromptu MC that night, inviting random musicians to perform some of their biggest hits onstage at the afterparty, and when Dave Chappelle told him that Prince was in the audience, Fallon grabbed a mic and dared Prince to take the stage. Suddenly, Fallon recounted, the crowd parted and Prince appeared out of nowhere, grabbing a guitar and launching into a rollicking rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy.”
“I think it really was a cloud of purple smoke,” Fallon said. “This dude floated. You just see this little afro floating toward you, and it’s almost like he had rockets on his legs or something. He wasn’t really walking.”
See some of the highlights from SNL’s Prince tribute episode below.