Prince’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ History
On April 23, 2016, just two days after Prince’s death, Saturday Night Live showed a special retrospective honoring the fallen icon. Jimmy Fallon hosted the program, speaking earnestly about his reverence for Prince and the lasting impact of his appearances on SNL.
“Other people may have been on the show more times or performed more frequently, but there was always something different about a Prince performance,” the comedian explained, speaking to a television studio devoid of its usual live audience. “It was special, it was an event. It was Prince. Times have changed, styles have come and gone but no matter what, Prince has never not been cool.”
Over a career that spanned more than 40 years, the musician only performed on SNL a total of four times. Multiple actors impersonated Prince on the show, to varying levels of success, yet it’s somewhat surprising that the singer himself never appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch - this despite a well-chronicled sense of humor and even a willingness to ham it up on television.
Prince’s connection to SNL was less about quantity of work and more about overall quality. The handful of times he did perform on the show were some of the most thrilling in the series’ history. He also maintained a sort of omnipresence over the show, appearing at afterparties, becoming the subject of skits and generally just being Prince.
We’ve gone back through the archives and assembled this collection of memories from Prince’s Saturday Night Live history.