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Woman who was aboard fateful flight with Prince speaks out

Judith Hill, a Grammy-winning artist, in Pasadena, Calif., June 18, 2016. For the first time, Hill recounts the moment a couple of months ago when she was on a plane with Prince and he lost consciousness in front of her. (Elizabeth Weinberg/The New York Times)

Judith Hill was sitting across from Prince as the two dined aboard a charter flight en route to Paisely Park, the singer’s sprawling Minnesota estate, in mid April. Suddenly, he passed out. “His eyes fixed,” Hill recalled. She tried desperately to revive him, shouting his name. It didn’t work, so called for the pilot to make an emergency landing. Six days later, the legendary musician died of an opioid overdose at his estate, shocking the entertainment world.

Hill, 32, spoke out for the first time this week in an interview with The New York Times. “I was with Prince the last two years of my life,” Hill, a Grammy-winning artist, said. She worked closely with Prince, recorded at his Paisley Park studios. She had become his protege. On that fateful flight, just before Prince had lost consciousness, she’d discussed his performance earlier in the evening with him — a show that turned out to be his last public concert. “Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot,” she said. “And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.” Prince had championed her as an artist and included her in some of his performances. For her 2014 album Back In Time, Prince played guitar bass and drums, and sang backup vocals.

She demurred when asked about the depths of their relationship, saying, “There was a very intense relationship. I deeply cared for him.” She added that recently before he died, “He told me that he loved me and that he would always be there for me.” Hill began an East Coast tour this week that kicked off in New York City. “He was such a warrior, and it’s inspiring me to be that person,” she said.

Hill also discussed an odd coincidence in the interview. In 2009, she was rehearsing with Michael Jackson ahead of a tour that was planned — a tour that never happened because he suffered a fatal overdose of a powerful painkilling drug.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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