One of the hardest things to say in this life is goodbye to someone you loved. Even if you are one the greatest musicians in history, those emotions are hard to express.

Last night before his concert in Melbourne, Australia, Prince learned that his former girlfriend and protege, Denise "Vanity" Matthews, had passed away Monday at the age of 57. No cause of death has been announced for Matthews. She recently opened a GoFundMe account, on which she stated her former Hollywood lifestyle had taken its toll on her and that she had been diagnosed with sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis, a rare form of peritoneal inflammation which involves both the visceral and the parietal surfaces of the abdominal cavity.

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Matthews, who started with Prince as a back-up singer and then later as the leader of the all-female trio Vanity 6, was originally cast to play the lead female role in Purple Rain, but abandoned the project before it began filming. As Vanity, Matthews first become a solo artist, then became an actress, appearing on television and in films including “The Last Dragon”, “Action Jackson” and “Never Too Young to Die”. Deciding to change her lifestyle that she led while in the entertainment industry, Matthews became an ordained minister later in life.

"I'm trying to stay focused, it's a little heavy for me tonight. Just keep jamming,"

Prince learned of Matthews' death just prior to taking the stage in Melbourne. It was the first night of his world tour. He quickly decided to give his band the night off, allowing the Purple One to dedicate the majority of the evening to Matthews and their relationship. Completely out of character, he sat at his piano and shared intimate details of the couple's time together, celebrating her life through his music, continually letting the audience know how much he was struggling with the news.

"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 'cos she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that." Prince remembering Denise "Vanity" Matthews

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Prince began the show by announcing the former Vanity's death to the crowd. "Someone near to us has passed away" he said, "I'm going to dedicate this song to her..." then launching into a version of "Little Red Corvette" unlike any other that those in the audience had quite probably heard before. Throughout the evening he changed songs in order to pay tribute to her, adding her name to songs where they hadn't been before. He spent the evening playing hits, covers and deep album covers that reminded him of his former love and protege.

When returned to the stage for an encore, Prince admitted he wasn't used to taking the stage alone, telling stories that he admitted he probably shouldn't, but that Matthews would rather they remember, not mourn her passing.

story courtesy of Old School Music