Prince sang 'Purple Rain' as his final song at his last performance
They witnessed history – and didn’t even know it.
Prince, who died at 57 on Thursday, performed his final show at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre just one week ago.
The star took to the stage last Thursday after postponing two of his Piano & a Microphone tour shows in Atlanta the week before due to the flu. He sang in front of a crowded audience that included singers Judith Hill and Janelle Monáe. The experience was incredible, according to audience member Celeste Headlee, and, now, even more poignant.
“He started the concert with an apology. He said he was sorry for canceling the week before. But he gave an incredible performance with at least four encores,” Headlee tells PEOPLE. “There was a tiny bit of gravel in his voice from time to time, but that was the only indication that he’d felt ill the week before.”
Headlee continues of the show, “He left everything on the stage, like he always did. After one song, he got up and left the stage because he was overcome by emotion. Honestly, it’s too much for me to take in at this point.”
Another fan, Shawna Michaels, reveals to PEOPLE that Prince joked around and teased the crowd, but “never appeared sick.”
“How fitting that “Purple Rain” was the last song he ever performed,” Michaels notes.
Just one day after the show, Prince’s private plane made an emergency landing to rush the singer to the hospital, his rep confirmed to PEOPLE at the time. He was treated in Illinois, before being sent home to rest. On Saturday, the star hosted a dance party at Paisley Park, showing up two hours into the soiree, according to the StarTribune.
“Wait a few days before you waste any prayers,” he reportedly told attendees, according to the newspaper. He was found dead at Paisley Park on Thursday.
“He performed at the height of his powers, but he always did that,” Headlee says of Prince’s Atlanta show. “That’s one of the things that made him great. Very few artists could sit at the piano and totally kill a concert using just that instrument and the power of his voice. He was that kind of master. He had the entire audience in the palm of his hand.”
Adds David Swett, who was also in attendance, “He cancelled the week before so we almost didn’t go. We decided to go and it was a amazing concert. He showed no signs to me. We truly lost one of the founding fathers of music.”