Downtown streets around Los Angeles City Hall were weekend-empty Saturday as signs of a giant tribute concert to Prince were mostly cleaned up.
But it wasn’t that way Friday night as about 6,000 purple-clad Prince fans turned out for the tribute concert at Los Angeles City Hall, filling up Spring Street and Grand Park and forcing frustrated commuters away from the closed-off streets.
An estimated 5,000 people had formed a dancing sea outside City Hall by about 6 p.m., according to a Los Angeles Fire Department official. The crowd appeared to grow to more than 6,000 as 7 p.m. approached.
The concert featured performances by Eric Benet, Faith Evans, Kenny Lattimore, members of Prince’s former band New Power Generation and The Time, the band that starred in Prince’s 1984 movie musical “Purple Rain.”
The concert concluded with unannounced performer Stevie Wonder leading a sing-along of “Purple Rain.”
Despite the somber reason for the occasion — which was to memorialize the iconic singer who had died at what many consider a young age — the concert had a festive mood, with fans who came wearing concert T-shirts, sporting purple hair and clutching vinyl records of their favorite Prince albums dancing to the artist’s music.
Tracy Shipman, 46, of Valencia teared up when she thought of the artist who she has been a fan of since she was 12 years old.
“I had his poster all over my room,” Shipman said. “It was my first concert too — 1999.”
The tribute concert was a way for her to reach closure over the death of Prince, she said.
“He’s a legend, he’s a genius … he’s just everything,” Shipman said. “I’m just so grateful he happened in my life time.”
Los Angeles resident Tammy Bell joked that when she was 11-years old, Prince “was my first boyfriend, before I was allowed to have boyfriends.”
When asked what her favorite Prince songs are, she said, their names are too raunchy to say out loud.
Leticia Martinez of Los Angeles said she was shocked to hear of Prince’s death last month at the age of 57, which is one year older than she is.
When she heard about the tribute concert, she decided she would take the time to attend.
“There’s not really a way to mourn (Prince’s death),” Martinez said. “It’s cool to be amongst a lot of people to celebrate the life of a musician — there’s never going to be another like him ever.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson joined the Prince fans and performers at the concert to express their fondness for the musician.
The event’s organizer, Najee Ali said earlier this week that Los Angeles was the “second home” for Prince, and the tribute would be “a one-of-a- kind celebration of Prince’s life and music that only L.A. can do.”
Organizers raised money to avoid using public money on the concert, Ali said. KJLH-FM (102.3) was among those helping defer the concert’s cost.
Ali organized a candlelight vigil for Prince in Leimert Park on April 21, the day the musician was found dead in an elevator at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota.
Prince was known as a master of showmanship whose hits included “When Doves Cry,” “1999,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Kiss” and “Little Red Corvette.” His film “Purple Rain” became a cult favorite and propelled him to super-stardom.
Prince — born Prince Rogers Nelson — won an Oscar for best original song for “Purple Rain.” He also won seven Grammys.
—Staff and wire reports