ENTERTAINMENT

Prince’s close friend and onetime lover, Sheila E., opens up about ‘unreal’ loss

Sheila E. and Prince during the 2007 NCLR ALMA Awards in Pasadena, California.

Sheila E. and Prince during the 2007 NCLR ALMA Awards in Pasadena, California.  (2007 Getty Images)

“It’s unreal. It’s surreal. I miss him dearly,” said Sheila Escovedo, best known as Sheila E., a longtime friend of Prince’s, hours after his sudden passing Thursday morning in Minnesota.

The two singers met in 1978 at an Al Jarreau concert and worked together extensively afterward. He eventually proposed to her during a performance of “Purple Rain.”

“I was playing drums at the time,” she recalled on a chat with Good Morning America from Minneapolis, where she flew after learning of Prince’s death on Thursday at the age of 57.

“He turned around and looked at me and asked me to marry him and I said, ‘Yes,’” the singer/percussionist told GMA.

They never tied the knot but remained close throughout the decades.

On her way to Prince’s Paisley mansion in Minnesota, Sheila E. told TMZ that Prince had not told her about any specific medical problems before his sudden passing.

It’s rumored that the singer had been battling the flu when his plane made an emergency landing at an Illinois hospital last week en route from his concert in Atlanta. Sheila E. said she plans to find out exactly what happened with the late music icon’s health.

According to Hollywood Life, Apollonia Kotero, Prince’s Purple Rain co-star and longtime friend, is reportedly headed to Minnesota as well.

Apollonia had been in contact with Prince multiple times in the days following his medical emergency. While Sheila E. seemed in the dark about Prince’s possible medical ailments, the Hollywood Life insider revealed that Apollonia had been “calling him a lot, checking in with him” and had been “really worried about him” ever since his plane made that emergency landing last week.

Sheila E.'s biggest hits were "The Glamorous Life" in 1984 and "A Love Bizzare" in 1985 — both collaborations with Prince. She also sang background on Prince's hit songs "Let's Go Crazy" and "Erotic City," and was his percussionist for several tours.

Escovedo is the daughter of Mexican percussionist Pete Escovedo.

In her 2014 memoir, My Own Drum, E. detailed her relationship with Prince in the 80s.

The rock icon had been rumored to be a womanizer at the time. “My relationship with Prince was a dream ... We were with each other all day and all night, so if he was fooling around on me, he would have had to be quick about it,” she told GMA.

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