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Prince fans party like it's 1999 at memorial concert in downtown Los Angeles

Wearing a purple hat and purple pumps, and with purple tattoos adorning her arms and legs, Angela Diaz joined thousands of other Prince fans in celebrating his life Friday evening at a free memorial concert in downtown Los Angeles.

"I don't believe he is dead," Diaz said, pressed against a steel fence in front of the stage on the steps of City Hall, bouncing to the beat of "1999" as she mouthed the words to the title track of his 1982 album. "He's the greatest performer of all time."

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Najee Ali, one of the concert's organizers, said people came from all over the country for it.

"L.A. was Prince's second home," Ali said. "We want to honor his memory. He was not just a musician. He was a great human being."

A Facebook announcement for the event said that City Hall was the prime location for Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls" video.

"The City of Los Angeles is proud to have been the home away from home for a tremendous talent that touched our city and our world," it read.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician died April 21 at age 57, at his home in Chanhassen, Minn. The cause of death has not been determined; results of an autopsy are pending.

About 40 minutes into Friday's block party tribute, the music got under way with a DJ set by DJ R-TISTIC, who spun a selection of Prince cuts. "Pop Life," "Raspberry Beret," "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and "Musicology" pumped over the loudspeakers as fans dressed in purple danced about the south lawn of Grand Park and the steps of City Hall were covered with VIPs and city officials grooving to the music.

Members of the music icon's backing band, New Power Generation, moved through a small set of classic Prince hits, including "Let's Work" and "1999."

Genre-bending singer B. Slade delivered a rollicking take of "Controversy," even jumping onto the side of City Hall's steps to slink and gyrate in a funky routine.

Marva King thanked the audience for showing "so much love ... for my friend," before moving through a loungey version of "Kiss."

R&B star Eric Benet kicked off the last hour of Friday's event with a bouncy take of "I Wanna Be Your Lover."

"He was his own genre. He was so special," Benet told a Times reporter.

Los Angeles City Hall is lighted in purple on April 23 as a tribute to the late musician Prince.
Los Angeles City Hall is lighted in purple on April 23 as a tribute to the late musician Prince. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Faith Evans, Aloe Blacc and BJ the Chicago Kid were among other high-profile artists who performed for the estimated 5,000 attendees. The Time appeared but didn't perform, much to the disappointment of the crowd, given the band's connection to the superstar.

But disappointment was in short supply Friday.

Annalisa Perez, 46, said she had traveled all the way from Colorado Springs, Colo., for the celebration.

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"I nearly missed my plane, but Prince was with me so I made it," she said. "I travel far and wide for Prince."

She held up her left arm to show off a new tattoo, "Beautiful Ones," along with Prince's symbol.

"I got it the day he died," she said.

Friday's celebration concluded with a rousing rendition of "Purple Rain," with Stevie Wonder leading the vocals and Aloe Blacc supporting him. The immortal anthem rolled across the crowd, which sang along as all of the night's performers joined in onstage in a final tribute to Prince.

"What an incredible life and legacy he gave us," Wonder told the crowd.

Times staff writers Veronica Rocha, Joseph Serna and Kim Christensen contributed to this report.

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