'When I first started out in the music industry, I was most concerned with freedom,' he said during his speech
Alicia Keys inducted music icon Prince into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2004, when she was just 23 years old, with an introductory speech that becomes more touching in the wake of the music legend’s death on Thursday.
“There are many kings. King Henry VIII, King Solomon, King Tut, King James, King Kong, the three kings, but there is only one Prince. Only one man who has defied restriction, who’s defied the obvious and all the rules to the game,” Keys said. “A mysterious figure who, when a river of words will not suffice, can only be identified by a symbol, who’s music is like an internal roller coaster that takes each individual on their own separate, legendary ride, and still takes listen after listen to discover and uncover even half of the story behind the intriguing and unapologetically addictive beat of music. … So yes, ladies and gentlemen, throughout history there have been many, many kings, both real and mythological. They have born sons, but none of them can touch the rays from this man who stands alone.”
Prince then took the stage for a speech of his own. “When I first started out in this music industry, I was most concerned with freedom: Freedom to produce, freedom to play all the instruments on my records, freedom to say anything I wanted to,” he said. “I embarked on a journey more fascinating than I could have ever imagined. But a word to the wise: Without real spiritual mentoring, too much freedom can lead to the soul’s decay. And a word to the young artists: A real friend or mentor is not on your payroll. A real friend and mentor cares for your soul as much as they do their own. This world and its wicked system will become harder and harder to deal with without a real friend or mentor. And I wish all of you the best on this fascinating journey.”
The musician also performed a rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” alongside Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, and Jeff Lynne at the 2004 event. Prince made another appearance at the Cleveland-based ceremony seven years prior, when he inducted George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Watch Prince’s performance and Keys’ emotional speech in the videos above.