Prince Pays Tribute to Vanity at Piano and a Microphone Solo Tour Opener: Watch

Nandy McClean for NPG Records
Prince

The death of former singer and actress Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity, on Monday coincided with Prince's Piano and a Microphone solo tour opening show in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday (Feb. 16) and the pop icon was sure to pay his respects to his late protégé and lover. 

Vanity, Former Prince Protégé & Leader of the Vanity 6, Dies at 57

Early in his set at the State Theatre, Prince told then audience, "I just found out a little while ago that someone dear to use has passed away, so I'm gonna dedicate this song to her." He then started into a slow and moving rendition of "Little Red Corvette" that segued in and out of "Dirty Mind" -- both songs from the era when they were together. Watch that here, starting around 7:40

Prince also reworked his classic track "The Ladder" to replace the name Electra for Vanity's, singing, "This Prince, he had a subject named Vanity who loved him with a passion, uncontested," News Corp Australia reports. He also later returned to the stage later for an encore to perform "The Beautiful Ones" from Purple Rain, changing the line "I'm begging down on my knees" to "I'm begging Denise, Denise."

"I am new to this playing alone. I thank you all for being so patient," he said ahead of "The Beautiful Ones." "I'm trying to stay focused, it's a little heavy for me tonight. Just keep jamming ... She knows about this one."

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Prince was in an unusually talkative mood Tuesday, as News Corp Australia reports, he continued with some reminiscence, "Can I tell you a story about Vanity? Or should I tell you a story about Denise? Her and I used to love each other deeply. She loved me for the artist I was, I loved her for the artist she was trying to be. She and I would fight. She was very headstrong 'cause she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that."

He went on with an anecdote about a fight they had where he had threatened to throw him in the swimming pool but she said he was too little to do it, so he asked his bodyguard Big Chick to do it for him. He said, "I probably shouldn’t be telling this story, but she’d want us to celebrate her life and not mourn her."