Prince was arguably one of the greatest musicians of his generation and there is no question that he was talented beyond measure. The multi-talented artist signed with Warner Bros. Records at just 19 years old and achieved critical success with albums that remain largely popular today, including Purple Rain (1984) and Sign ‘O The Times (1987), among others. He sold over 150 million records worldwide and won various prestigious awards during his lifetime. Unfortunately, he passed away on April 21, 2016, at age 57, leaving the world reeling amid the tragic loss of such an icon.
While many are familiar with his illustrious career, not much was known about his personal life prior to his death, as he was a notoriously private person. It might surprise people to learn that Prince was actually a father whose son passed away while he was still a baby. Keep reading to learn more about the death of Prince’s son and how the legendary musician coped with the painful loss.
Inside Prince's marriage to Mayte Garcia
Dancer Mayte Garcia grew up idolizing Prince and watching him on MTV. Little did she know, she would ultimately join the rock star on tour as a dancer, and later, become his wife.
Garcia first met Prince when she was 16 years old. She told NPR in a 2017 interview that her mom had hatched a plan to get a video of her performing into Prince’s hands at one of his concerts, and somehow, it worked. Next thing she knew, Prince was asking to meet her backstage and, although Garcia was just a teenager, Prince allegedly remarked, “That’s my future wife” upon their initial meeting (per Distractify). The two then struck up a platonic friendship, exchanging letters as pen pals for a few years. Garcia was then invited to dance on his Diamonds and Pearls Tour when she turned 18 in 1992 (per Talent Recap). The couple dated for four years and got married on Feb/ 14, 1996, when Garcia was 22 and Prince was 37.
Their romance was truly a whirlwind and they had a fairy tale wedding at Prince’s home, Paisley Park. A few months after their wedding, Garcia got pregnant. Unfortunately, their relationship struggled and the two eventually divorced, mainly due to the painful loss of their son.
Prince and Mayte Garcia welcomed a son named Amiir
On Oct. 16, 1996, Prince’s then-wife Mayte Garcia gave birth to a son, Amiir Nelson. He was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, a very rare genetic disease, and could not breathe without a ventilator. He tragically passed away six days later, leaving the couple devastated. In the years after Prince’s death, Garcia has opened up about losing their son and the impact it had on both of them in her memoir, The Most Beautiful Life: My Life With Prince.
“They brought the baby over to us. He was curled on his side, gasping shallow little gulps of air,” she wrote (via Vanity Fair). “Because there were no lids to blink, his eyes looked startled and dry. I caught hold of his tiny hand, saying over and over, ‘Mama loves you, Mama’s here.'”
Garcia also described the moment Prince became a father, as well as the moment he realized something was not right. “I don’t know how to describe the look on my husband’s face. Pure joy,” Garcia wrote (per Billboard). “And then they held the baby up to those harsh lights… The elation on my husband’s face turned to pure terror.”
Lindsey Allen, Prince’s dancer, told People that it was sad to watch because she felt Prince was “really looking forward to being a father.” She told the outlet, “I don’t think they [Prince and Garcia] really recovered from that. I felt a very paternal feeling from him but yet that was something that he never really had known.”
Prince kept the death of his son a secret
A week after Amiir died, Prince and Mayte Garcia did an interview with Oprah, at Prince’s insistence, and kept the death of their baby a secret. At this time, rumors of Amiir’s death were circulating in the press, but Prince would not answer Oprah’s questions about it and, instead, alluded that he was still alive, telling her, “Things couldn’t be better” (via Yahoo! Entertainment). Prince was likely in shock and it was difficult for the couple to accept that Amiir was actually gone. Garcia apparently did not want to do the interview, but said she did it for her husband and because she had hope that they would have another kid.
“I knew we had an album to promote,” Garcia said in a 2017 ABC interview. “The faith that kept me going was that we were going to try again.” The couple did try again and Garcia got pregnant, but she unfortunately miscarried. The loss of Amiir, as well as the baby that never came to term, proved too much for the couple and put a strain on their relationship. They divorced in 2000 after only four years of marriage.
“I believe a child dying between a couple either makes you stronger or it doesn’t,” Garcia wrote in her memoir The Most Beautiful Life: My Life With Prince (via Distractify). “For me, it was very, very hard to move forward and for us as a couple I think it probably broke us.”
Prince struggled to cope with the death of his son
Following the heartbreaking death of his son, Prince threw himself into his work as grieving people often do. He hit the studio and, as a result, came out with the acoustic album The Truth, which was sold as a package with his album Crystal Ball. One specific track on the album, Comeback — the shortest song on the album — was a particularly emotional track and fans later came to realize it was likely about the loss of his son Amiir. The lyrics describe the emotional carnage losing a loved one leaves behind and it ends with the hope that death is not the end.
Things were never the same between Prince and his wife Mayte Garcia, though, and the loss took a heavy toll on their marriage. After divorcing, Prince quickly got remarried to Manuela Testolini in 2001 and became a Jehovah’s Witness that same year.
The death of Amiir likely weighed heavy on Prince for the remainder of his life. “I don’t think he ever got over it,” Garcia told People in a 2017 interview. “I don’t know how anybody can get over it. I know I haven’t.” He also allegedly burned everything in his home that reminded him of Amiir and Garcia after they had divorced. As Garcia wrote in her memoir The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince (per People), “In some sad, painful moment, he had it all burned, as if fire could cauterize this deep wound he couldn’t close.”
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