Saturday Night Live was supposed to have been a repeat, but instead the producers put together Goodnight Sweet Prince, a hasty tribute to Prince following his shocking death last week. It was worth the work they put in. Jimmy Fallon hosted a look back at multiple numbers Prince performed as musical guest over the years. Fallon was clearly working off the cuff, and it was too bad none of the songs were Prince’s biggest hits. But all of them showed his range, his outsized skills as a guitar virtuoso, his gift for funk, and his effortless ability to sing anything from baritone to falsetto. Fallon also introduced several comedy sketches in which past cast member Fred Armisen played Prince. But the real payoff came when Fallon introduced an impromptu performance of Let’s Go Crazy at a private after-party following the 40th anniversary special. Fallon said that Lorne Michaels put instruments on a stage, just in case anyone wanted to jam. Well, Paul McCartney, Dan Aykroyd and others took the bait, and after Dave Chappelle whispered to Fallon that Prince was there and should be asked to the stage, Fallon said the room parted and the Purple Majesty appeared, and gave Fallon one of his favorite moments associated with his long run on the show. We’ve lost too many rock stars who provided the soundtrack of our formative years (David Bowie and Glenn Frey among them), and Prince is especially shocking because he just never seemed to age and always seemed in wonderful shape. Here’s a version of that SNL after party song that was shot by former cast member Tim Kazurinsky. We’ll replace it with the official NBC version when it’s available, but man, this guy could play.
And here’s one of Armisen’s Prince sketches, with special guest Shia LaBeouf :