Eight days before Prince passed away, he boarded a flight. Having just finished what would be his last public performance, The Purple One was flying from Atlanta, Ga., back home to his Paisley Park Estate outside his hometown Minneapolis, Minn. Judith Hill, protégée and close friend of Prince, was also on that flight. In a recent interview, Hill described the terrifying moment when Prince went from talking and eating dinner to unconscious in a split second.
“His eyes fixed,” Hill says. “Thankfully I happened to be looking into his face.” She remarks that had she not been looking at him in that moment she would have just assumed he’d fallen asleep.
Judith Hill had been working closely with the legend since 2014. He co-produced her 2015 debut album Back In Time. Hill also reportedly spent extended periods of time at Prince’s home in Minneapolis working on various projects. She has opened for several of his shows and he was helping her plan an upcoming tour.
Hill was one of only four people on the plane, including the pilot. She realized something was wrong and alerted Kirk Johnson, a friend of Prince who was also on the flight. The two of them tried repeatedly to wake Prince up, but their efforts made no progress. They notified the pilot that they needed to land immediately. Paramedics met the trio on the ground at an airport in Moline, Ill., and Prince was transported to Trinity Moline Hospital, where he was revived by a shot of Narcan, a drug typically used for opioid overdoses.
A little over a week later, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in his Paisley Park Estate. Police have determined the cause of death to have been an accidental overdose of the pain killer fentanyl.
While still recovering in the hospital that night, Hill says Prince confided in her that his unconsciousness felt like an out of body experience.
“‘I had to fight for my life. I remember hearing your voices from afar and saying to myself ‘Follow the voices, follow the voices, get back in your body, you gotta do this.’ And he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, to get back into his body like that.” Hill says.