The world lost Prince to a prescription drug overdose at just 57 years old earlier this year. Today, we lost Sharon Jones to cancer. Prince’s star power far outshined Jones’, but she was just as much of a force to be reckoned with on stage with her band the Dap-Kings. And Prince knew it.
In 2011, Prince recruited Jones and her band to open for him at Madison Square Garden after seeing them perform at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. "He was walking in Austin and he saw us perform, and he told me, "'Girl, you took me to church,’” Jones told the Baltimore Sun that year. "That was my first 'I don't know what to do with myself' moment.”
It was backstage at MSG that Prince told Jones he thought her song "When I Come Home" was “one of the most funkiest songs” he’d heard in the past 25 years. “I haven’t heard a funk song that groovy.”
A few months later, when Jones was playing that song at a concert in Paris, Prince surprised her by strutting out on stage in the middle of it and taking an impromptu guitar solo. The whole performance was caught on video by a fan.
Prince appears out of nowhere at about the 6:45 minute mark, his back to the audience. Less than two minutes later, after wailing next to Jones centerstage, he’s gone.
“I’m up there on the stage, I’m dancing, people are screaming — and the roaring got louder,” Jones told Entertainment Weekly this past May. “It turned out it was Prince. He caught me off guard. He would’ve played longer, but he dropped his pick.”
“He rode up to the stage on a bike, jumped off the bike, got his guitar, played, jumped back on his bike, and rode back to his own, purple dressing room,” she added. “That’s the type of person he was.”
“I’ll always have good memories of Prince,” Jones said in another interview this year after his death. “The most valuable thing he taught me was to know my worth, to trust in yourself, believe in what you’re doing and to not change for anyone.”
It was a lesson that Jones embodied with her untouchable voice and stage performances, including this past April when she dedicated “When I Come Home” to “Mr. Prince himself” at New Orleans Jazz Fest.