Prince Rogers Nelson, better known mononymously as Prince, died Thursday at 57. It is a heartbreaking loss to the music world, as Prince was among the greatest songwriters, musicians and performers ever born. And though he leaves behind an astonishing body of work, there are only a handful of clips of Prince performances online.
Prince's team has always been diligent about taking down any unauthorized footage, but the ones that are out there all capture the same thing: an incredible showman with an almost supernatural capacity to entertain. Here are nine of his finest television moments.
1. Super Bowl XLI
In 2007, Prince headlined the Super Bowl XLI halftime show, playing a medley of his song "Let's Go Crazy," Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," and the Foo Fighters' "Best of You" before closing with "Purple Rain." He performed the iconic title track from his movie and album in a downpour, playing a guitar solo while standing behind a billowing sheet that turned him into a giant silhouette. The Super Bowl halftime show is the biggest stage in America, and Prince made it belong to him. No other halftime show even comes close. The NFL has a retrospective of the performance that can be watched on YouTube.
2. 1991 MTV Video Music Awards
In 1991, at the height of his power, Prince performed "Gett Off" at the MTV Video Music Awards. This is the famous "assless pants" performance, memorably parodied by Howard Stern the next year. It's almost unfathomable how good it is. Prince was a legend even then, as seen in host Arsenio Hall's astonished reaction. Deadspin has a clip, which they call "maybe the sexiest thing ever aired on TV," and they're not really being hyperbolic.
3. 2008 Coachella performance
In 2008, Prince performed at Coachella and covered Radiohead's 1993 single "Creep." It was incredible, but footage was quickly scrubbed when uploaded after the show. In a surprising turn of events, he relented in 2015, and allowed the performance to be posted on YouTube.
4. "She's Always In My Hair" on The Arsenio Hall Show
One of the only authorized TV clips out there is from a 2014 appearance on the short-lived revival of his old friend Arsenio Hall's show. He performed the classic B-side "She's Only In My Hair" with his band 3rdEYEGIRL. It shows off his Hendrix-like guitar skills.
5. 2015 Grammys
Even when he wasn't performing, he could steal TV events. He presented the award for Album of the Year at the 2015 Grammys. Beck won, but that's less important than Prince's statement that albums, like books and Black Lives, still matter. Even Beck was amazed that he got to be there with the Purple One.
6. That time he was on New Girl
Prince was completely unpredictable. He appeared on a Season 3 episode of New Girl, mediating a disagreement between Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson). The characters had the only possible reaction to meeting Prince: "Did that really happen?" It was his idea to appear on the show, and he contacted Deschanel directly to work out an appearance. He just did it because he was a fan. And when Prince asks to be on your show, you make it happen, even if it doesn't make sense. He and Deschanel even collaborated on a song in the episode, called "Fall In Love Tonight." Honestly, it was probably an unnecessarily elaborate ploy to meet Hannah Simone. Watch the full episode on Netflix.
7. That time he was on Muppets Tonight
In 1997, during the Artist Formerly Known as Prince period, he appeared on Muppets Tonight, performing "Starfish and Coffee" from Sign 'O' the Times. He could have phoned it in, lip-syncing to the album version, but he did a different, new version.
8. That time he showed up on The View
In 2010, he walked onto the set of The View in a way that wasn't unplanned, but felt unplanned. The studio audience lost their minds. He then just as suddenly walked off when Sherri Shepherd said she wanted to make love to him.
9. Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood story
Not Prince directly, but a discussion about Prince on TV would be incomplete without Dave Chappelle's mind-bogglingly hilarious impression of Prince on a 2004 episode of Chappelle's Show. In the sketch, comedian Charlie Murphy recalls the time Prince defeated him in a game of basketball and then fed him some pancakes. Prince later used a photo of Chappelle-as-Prince holding a plate of pancakes as the cover art for a single called "Breakfast Can Wait." Again, a turn of events no one would have ever predicted.
This list is woefully incomplete, and there will be a silver lining to this if Prince performances that were previously unavailable are released, so fans can remember and celebrate the legacy of one of the greatest ever