*Singer and Prince protégé Judith Hill says she was on the plane with Prince that had to make an emergency landing in Illinois after he lost consciousness less than a week before his death.
Hill, a former contestant on “The Voice,” told The New York Times Tuesday that she was “very freaked out” when Prince passed out in the middle of a conversation. She said his eyes became fixed before he lost consciousness.
“Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face,” she said, adding that she might have thought he had simply fallen asleep if she hadn’t been looking at him.
Hill said she shook Prince and called his name while the plane descended to Moline, Illinois.
“We knew it was only a matter of time; we had to get down,” Hill said. “We didn’t have anything on the plane to help him.”
Hill was one of two people (aside from the pilot) on the plane with Prince, the other being Prince’s friend and aide Kirk Johnson. By the time the plane landed, Prince had regained consciousness, Hill said, “which was such a relief to me, because I thought he was gone.”
Hill was unaware of Prince’s health issues, so she considered the incident as a one-time emergency. “I only know what everyone knows about his pain — I read about it,” said Hill. “He was quick on his feet. Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.”
She said he was awake and talking by the time they arrived at a hospital. She said it was the first time she’d ever seen him in distress.
Prince “was quick on his feet,” she said. “Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.”
She said Prince returned to his old self in the hospital room. “He wasn’t dreary or drowsy, or anything,” she said.
After the health scare, Hill aided in convincing Prince to get serious medical help. “And that’s the part that breaks my heart, because he was trying. He was trying,” Hill said.
Prince died of an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl six days later. Hill said she woke up to texts from friends that day.
“That was definitely the worst day of my life,” she said.
Below, Judith Hill at Paisley Park:
Ironically, Hill was with Michael Jackson the night before the King of Pop died of an overdose of propofol. They famously performed “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” during rehearsals for his “This Is It” tour.