Six days before Prince’s tragic passing, the icon was headed home after a show in Atlanta when his plane made an emergency landing. Judith Hill, singer-songwriter and Prince’s protégé, was on the flight when the music legend lost consciousness and now she’s opening up about that terrifying night.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hill recalls talking and having dinner with Prince when he suddenly went unconscious. “His eyes fixed,” Hill said, remembering the moment just before he passed out, “Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face.”
Hill was one of two people on the plane. Aside from the pilot, Prince’s aide and friend Kirk Johnson was also on board. When Hill saw Prince go unconscious, she rushed to get Johnson. They tried waking the singer, shaking him and calling his name, before alerting the pilot, who alerted air traffic controllers in Chicago that there was someone unresponsive on the plane.
“We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,” Hill said, “We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him.”
Paramedics met the plane as it made an emergency landing in Moline, Ill. and Prince was given a shot of Narcan, used to treat opioid overdoses. Hill says she had no knowledge of Prince’s health issues, “I only know what everyone knows about his pain — I read about it. He was quick on his feet. Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.”
Like so many, Hill was devastated by the loss of Prince just six days later, the man who inspired her and aided her in her career. Hill admits that without him it’s a bit daunting to go on. “Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot and that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.” But, the singer will push through because Prince taught her enough to be able to take on the world, “He was such a warrior, and it’s inspiring me to be that person.”
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.