(CNN)When Prince died on Thursday at the age of 57, many struggled to find words to describe his greatness. This was a man who literally defied speech -- living under a symbol for years and speaking in elegant sotto voce when he was moved to speak publicly at all. ("He *does* talk!" Patti LaBelle once told Arsenio Hall on the Arsenio Hall Show.)
5 memories of Prince from some of the celebs who knew him
The man who was Prince can be known through his monumental contributions to the world of sound. Beyond that, stories from his fans, collaborators and friends piece together a more intimate mosaic of a peculiar, perplexing man person, if never fully understood, was fully loved.
"When I got back, Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path.
He took them out and did a big lap around the rink. Man. He could skate like he could sing."
-- Questlove, in his book "Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove," about the time he was invited to go roller skating with Prince.
"He parties, he lives and he loves, and he's wonderful. I just love him! He's just too fierce."
-- Patti LaBelle on the Arsenio Hall Show, describing the time he reached out to collaborate with her
"He joined me this last New Years in St Bart's and performed for my friends party at what will now be the last time I saw him.. It's the one and only time I was able to actually work with him directly.. I won't forget that electrifying performance.. Or the smile on his face that night.. And the love that he gave me.. He always treated me with kindness.. We didn't always agree.. We would argue for hours... But he understood that I respected him dearly and cared for him..
-- Guy Oseary, Madonna's manager
"Once I djed a BET party for Debra Lee. I played some gangsta rap. Prince walked up & said "I ain't get dressed up to come & hear curses"
-- Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli flooded Twitter with several unbelievable (yet somehow completely believable) anecdotes about their times together.
"I've always been a fan. I think he's incredible... He's very courageous and he causes lots of controversy too."
-- Madonna, on working with Prince on "Love song"