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Purple Rain. Purple Rain.
Armed with a song in my heart, a Prince T-Shirt and a purple glittery butterfly tattoo on my shoulder, we set off to spend the day with the ghost and memories of one of the greatest artists of our time at Paisley Park on a Prince Tour!
Prince Nelson Rogers. The Enigma and Unpronounceable Symbol.
Or most loved as, Prince.
A Prince concert was the first concert I attended without a chaperone when I was in high school. My girlfriends and I had seats up in the nosebleeds.
His small stature was little more than a speck below but his spirit and energy filled up the room and spilled out onto the streets of Sydney.
We danced, sang and screamed for the entire concert.
He was that kind of a performer and artist. Every note, tune and dance move pulled you in with its perfect energy.
I only knew he was from Minneapolis when Justin Timberlake sang a tribute to him at the Super Bowl this year.
When the folks from Bloomington CVB asked us a few weeks later if we’d like to tour Paisley Park and go on the Experience Prince Tour when visiting Minneapolis area, we were like “Oh My God Yes!!”
Prince Tour of Paisley Park Museum: The VIP Experience
Visiting Paisley Park on the VIP Experience Tour was one of the best tours we’ve done so far in the US, and is one of the top things to do in Minneapolis.
The Paisley Park Museum is a wonderful tribute to Prince, but also to imagination and creativity.
It’s a small insight into his very private life and his dedication to musicology.
Prince played 27 instruments – all self-taught – and through them produced one innovative hit after another fusing sounds of pop, R &B, rock, soul, jazz and funk.
He was a musician, a singer, a director, a producer, an engineer, an actor, an innovator, a fashion icon, and the ultimate definition of cool.
“Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is, ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw I’d get nervous’?’ If not, then you’re cool.” – Prince
For him, the purpose of life was to live with the complete freedom to express who you are without fear of what others think.
The Creative Space at Paisley Park
“The music for me doesn’t come on schedule” – Prince.
Paisley Park was designed to allow this unannounced creativity to flow to Prince (and anyone who visits).
Prince was known to lock himself in a room when the inspiration arrived and then a few hours later walk out with a hit tune like Nothing Compares to You.
Candles and incense could be found in almost every room.
Pot pourri sat under his piano and musical instruments, and his favorite space – the “galaxy room” filled with ultraviolet lights, drawn planets and starry skies was his small meditation room to the side of Studio B.
On the outside, Prince’s Paisley Park Estate doesn’t look like much more than a sterile industrial building on the side of a busy road.
No photography or video is allowed inside Paisley Park, but the mental images will never me!
As you walk inside, a large mural of the symbol sitting over Prince’s eyes stares upon you reminding you that there are no limits or no walls on creativity in this space.
Paisley Park eclectically opens up into a kaleidoscope of patterns, colors and shrines to music, funk, inspiration and freedom.
“That’s when stars collide, when there’s space for what you want, and your heart is wide open.” – Prince
The atrium, a bright welcoming space was designed so the light coming out of the sun roof into the dark starry night would symbolize creative energy.
The walls are floating clouds reminding you to let go and let flow.
Above the atrium is an elaborate model recreation of Paisley Park. In it remains Prince’s ashes.
The Symbol in places in front of it and blow on the floor. Above it and off to the side is a cage of white doves looking over him in honor and peace.
The rooms off the atrium showcase various albums and success like Diamonds and Pearls and Love Sexy, a few of his favorite guitars, and a wall filled with musical awards and multi-platinum selling albums.
Memorabilia from concerts and movies stand in displays in various rooms, including his purple motorbikes.
An entire room is dedicated to Purple Rain. Formerly, it was the dance studio and the place Prince would convert into a basketball court when it was time to play.
Our guide, Marshall, emanated a gentle spirit that felt connected to the space and Prince.
A musician himself, Marshall respectfully moved us around the Prince museum room-by-room sharing stories and being sure to let us know we were welcomed and appreciated.
In the Studio: Where the magic was made
We went into Studio B, the analog studio, which was a free creative space. It was here that we were able to relax and slip into Prince’s musical day.
In one corner, sat his piano with lyrics painted on the top. In the other corner sat his ping pong table.
Prince was a skilled ping pong player and we were able to play a couple of games while we waited for everyone to get their photo taken with a life-sized photo of an afro Prince and record a song over one of his tracks.
When you do the VIP Paisley Park Tour on a Thursday, you get to go into the studio and sing with him.
I tapped into his fearless creative energy, bopped and sang the chorus of Raspberry Beret. I hear you Prince and I’m being cool alongside you.
This is the kind of energy that is in Paisley Park: divine energy, creative energy, light and happy.
From everything I’ve heard about the man, who is adored and worshipped in Minneapolis, I am sure he would be very happy with how the tours at Paisley Park are conducted.
We ventured into Studio A where most of his music and hits were created.
He wasn’t the only artist recording hits in there, but others such as James Brown, Madonna, Celine Dion, and R.E.M.
We saw his recording chair where he sat and recorded his vocals, which is unlike most artists who stand.
Prince sat because while he was recording he was also working the control panels to produce and engineer every part of the vocals and tracks.
“I feel so happy and free playing every instrument” – Prince
No wonder he was such a successful musician. The talent was there for sure, but even more so was the commitment to excellence.
The music was everything to him and he was perfect in his execution and making it pure. We were able to stand in there and listen to an unreleased track, Rough Enough.
I hope in the coming years these unreleased tracks and behind the scenes videos of his musical life are released and shared with the world, so we can continue to experience the joy of his music.
A Symbol for Freedom
“What would we do in a perfect world where we are completely free?” – Prince.
Even if you don’t like his music, you can be inspired by this man who created a lifestyle where he had this gift of freedom.
I loved how he took back the creative control of his work by changing his name to the Symbol to craftily get out of the recording deal with Warner Bros records who was trying to change his creativity too much.
In doing so, he paved the way for other musicians to reduce the middle man’s fingers on art.
“When I became a symbol, all the writers were cracking funnies, but I was the one laughing. I knew I’d be here today, feeling each new album as my first”. – Prince
I’ll admit it Prince, I giggle every time I hear you call yourself the Unpronounceable Symbol Formerly Known As Prince.
Paisley Park After Dark
We finished the tour in the sound stage, where he’d practice for tours, hold small events, and where a couple of movies were filmed.
Off to the side was the intimate club, Paisley Park After Dark.
We heard stories of how Prince would pop-up unannounced and sing to the crowds from the small stage. One night, Madonna appeared as well, and they performed together.
No one knew when he was coming though, and he’d often arrive at 2 or 3am in the morning. Only the dedicated of fans would still be there for the treat.
Sometimes, instead of singing he’d play his favorite movie for his guests: Finding Nemo!
It as an absolute treat to spend time with Prince the legend in his home and recording studio. His legacy and legend will continue to live on.
As Prince once said, “he wanted to be remembered only for his music.” Well maybe a little of his fashion and cool style as well.
The adventure did not end with the Paisley Park tour.
With my new purple scarf wrapped around my neck, we jumped into a black van with purple letters emblazoned on the side Experience the Tour.
Prince the Tour that is with Captain Randy.
Experience Prince the Tour
Local, and former DJ, Randy was asked, not long after Paisley Park began conducting tours, to start a Prince the Tour experience of Minneapolis and Chanhassen the area where Paisley Park and Prince’s home is located.
It was a wonderful way to continue the Prince story.
Randy was a fantastic guide: warm and friendly, with a few good jokes thrown in, plenty of enthusiasm, and most importantly, a love for Prince and his hometown.
On the Prince tour we heard stories of Prince – what is known so far – about his upbringing, his musical career, his quiet philanthropic contributions, and the positive impact he had on the lives of the local people and the millions of people who loved his music
These stories can be heard and felt with the creative memorabilia left behind by his fans that visit both sent to Paisley Park and those left in Graffiti Tunnel, which was our last spot on the Prince the Tour.
Graffiti Tunnel is across the road from Paisley Park.
It goes under the road out front and the tunnel is covered in Purple Graffiti – messages, symbols, and pictures and leads out the other side to a fence adorned with purple ribbons, posters, letters and artists sketches.
Paisley Park collects these and rotates them on the memorabilia wall inside the Paisley Park Museum.
There was an abundance of them on our visit as the anniversary of Prince’s death had just passed and the big Celebrating that was held in his honor.
This is testament to creative, joyful spirit of Prince.
He didn’t want his passing to be fussed over or mourned, he wanted his life and legacy to be celebrated.
His community and fans knew this, so they celebrate with him each year.
Prince Tour Attractions in Minneapolis
On the tour we stopped outside Prince’s home where he lived as a child, and where his sister now lives.
We also stopped by Kid’s house from the movie Purple Rain, which Prince owns.
Purple tributes to him sat on the doorstep.
Capri Theater was where Prince held his first concert in 1979, selling out two shows of 240 tickets at $4 each. Imagine!
We followed the growth of his music career to First Avenue, nominated as one of the top five music venues in the world.
Only the best musical acts earn a start on the Wall of Stars at this venue.
Prince’s gold star looked upon the wall of silver stars of artists, like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It was here that upon his death the fans gathered, blocking off the surrounding streets and singing Prince tunes to honor this great man.
The world misses him.
A few days later in Dallas, a stranger stopped us to talk about Prince after noticing Craig’s Paisley Park T-Shirt.
We talked to him for some time sharing our memories and telling him about the tour.
“I miss Prince” he said like he was a long-lost friend. “There was just no one else like him.”
We need more musicians like him.
Musicians that make it about the music, the instruments, the messages, the creativity, and the beauty of the song.
Not the fame or the awards, but the spirit of creativity.
The Reign of Electric Fetus
One of our favorite spots on the tour was Electric Fetus record store.
It’s unusual name reflective of the hippy era of its birth. In a world of Spotify and iTunes, it’s incredible to see this record store still in business and thriving.
Electric Fetus was Prince’s favorite record store and he would often visit incognito.
In true Prince thoughtful spirit, he’d phone the owners first checking if it was okay for him to come in. He never wanted to arrive and cause a scene and make the owners stay back late or deal with mania.
Electric Fetus was the last place Prince was seen publicly before his death.
We spoke with the owners who told us that just the week before for the Celebration the store was packed.
It’s a landmark place for Prince fans to visit now.
We were fortunate that there were still some 7-inch vinyl limited editions left of Nothing Compares to You.
It was released for the Celebration and Electric Fetus was the only brick and mortar store granted permission to sell it.
Only 1984 copies were sold, which was the year he wrote and recorded the song.
Prince originally gave the song to The Family to record, but it wasn’t until Sinead released it in 1990 that it became a well-known hit.
I have that vinyl in my souvenir bag. I’ve just now got to get a record player to listen to it!
Hail to the Purple Reign: The Prince Mural
The final stop on our tour was back in Chanhassen where we stopped by the big Purple mural on the wall of Chanhassen Theater.
The theater was a place he’d often book out for private showings – he loved going to the movies.
Sometimes when he wasn’t feeling Paisley Park After Dark, he’d phone the theater in the early hours and book it out. He’d then send all the party goeers there telling them,
“I’m not feeling it tonight, but I’ve booked out the theater and all concessions for you to go there and continue the fun.’
The theater owners gave over this wall to Kiwi graffiti artist, Mr. G to create this portrait.
And of course, what else can you do after such a memorable day with the Purple Reign but kiss the Prince?
Even though Savannah didn’t think he looked like a Prince, she leaned over to give him one too.
This Day. This Man. This Creative Divine Purple Energy.
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What is your favorite Prince memory? Have you experienced a Paisley Park Museum or Prince the Tour?