Prince paid tribute to his late ex-girlfriend and protégée Vanity at a solo concert on Monday, after learning that she had passed away.
According to the Herald Sun, he told the crowd at his Melbourne show, “Someone dear to us has passed away. I’m gonna dedicate this song to her,” before launching into emotional versions of “Little Red Corvette” and “Dirty Mind.”
He later worked her name into the song “The Ladder,” singing, “This Prince, he had a subject named Vanity who loved him with a passion, uncontested.”
At the end of the show he said, “I’m trying to stay focused. It’s a little heavy for me tonight. Just keep jamming ... She knows about this one,” before singing “The Beautiful Ones.”
The artist then said of Vanity, real name Denise Matthews, “Can I tell you a story about Vanity? Or should I tell you a story about Denise? Her and I used to love each other deeply. She loved me for the artist I was, I loved her for the artist she was trying to be. She and I would fight. She was very headstrong 'cause she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that.”
Prince then recalled the time he threatened to throw her in a pool. She responded, “You can’t throw me in the pool — you’re too little”… so he asked his bodyguard to do it.
“I probably shouldn’t be telling this story,“ he said, “but she’d want us to celebrate her life and not mourn her.”
Vanity, who was the lead singer of Vanity 6, died in a Fremont, California, hospital after a long battle with kidney failure. She was also suffering from the abdominal illness sclerosing encapsulated peritonitis.
Matthews’ kidneys failed after a drug overdose in 1994. She had been on daily dialysis ever since.
Matthews, 57, had put drugs and show business behind her and had become a born-again Christian.