Prince’s Protégée Judith Hill Speaks Out About What Happened the Week Before His Death

By May Wilkerson 06/23/16

Singer Judith Hill shared the details of the mid-flight overdose that led to Prince being revived with Narcan one week before his death. 

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Prince’s Protegée Judith Hill Speaks Out About What Happened the Week Before His Death
Judith Hill

More details have emerged about the widely-reported incident that occurred a week before Prince’s death, when his private jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois. Singer Judith Hill, a protégée and close friend of the late superstar, spoke to the New York Times this week about being on the plane when she and Prince’s long-time friend and aide, Kirk Johnson, found him unresponsive and immediately alerted the crew. “We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down," she recalled. "We didn't have anything on the plane to help him."

After the plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, an ambulance arrived and Prince was administered a shot of Narcan, a medication used to reverse opiate overdose. Hill said she wasn’t aware at the time what had caused the medical problem. Following the incident, news sources reported that Prince had been suffering from the flu, but rumors circulated that he was battling an addiction to prescription painkillers.

Hill, a singer and actress who was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, first met Prince after appearing on The Voice in 2013. He co-produced her 2015 debut album, Back in Time, and the two were largely inseparable for the last two years of his life. Though she did not reveal whether their relationship was romantic, Hill said their connection was “very intense” and “I deeply cared for him.” However, she says he never disclosed to her that he was suffering any pain. “[He] never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle,” she said. “That's why it's all very shocking." 

As far as Prince's medical treatment while in Moline, she did not reveal specific details, but said that the singer was "very cooperative" and "serious about getting help." Soon after the ordeal, Hill returned to Los Angeles, where she remained concerned about Prince’s health and alerted others about the situation. Friends contacted Dr. Howard Kornfeld, who specializes in opioid addiction, and he was scheduled to meet with Prince the day after his death.

A week after the emergency landing, on April 21, the beloved singer died at age 57 in his home and studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His death was ruled an accidental overdose from the painkiller fentanyl. According to Hill, in the week before his death, Prince continued to seek medical help, including visiting a local doctor. "And that's the part that breaks my heart,” she said, “because he was trying.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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