Paisley Park & Prince
Favorite Son, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
We continue to expand on our Travel Dates to significant places out our back door in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. This one was in combination with a wonderful visit to the Minnesota Arboretum, just a few miles down the road; blog on this gem is coming soon.
Legacy of Prince: musician, artist, fashion designer, social icon – and one of Minnesota’s favorite sons. A visit to his home, studio – and now museum – seemed appropriate.
I am a strong advocate of cultural literacy to enrich one’s life experience. There are people who have significantly impacted the world in various ways through art, music, fashion, sports, politics, medicine… etc. I believe that an awareness of their life and legacy are important to know. Prince is one of those people.
Who is Prince?
Prince. His is a name to be recognized by the music world – and the world.
Minnesota born and bred, Prince put Minneapolis – and its iconic First Avenue night club – on the map. He could have chosen to call anywhere his “home,” but he remained loyal to his Minneapolis roots.
“I like Hollywood. I just like Minneapolis a little bit better.” – Prince
His world-acclaimed studio is here in Minneapolis. It is now available for the world to tour – and experience a bit of Prince’s life and legacy.
Photo from Google Images, copyright free. 10/2/21
What is it? Where is it?
“Paisley Park is a place where art, music, fashion, and culture are celebrated, energized, and inspired by the visionary creative spirit of Prince. Known as his home and studio, Paisley Park now draws people from around the world to attend tours, concerts and events, and feel the love, awe, and wonder that are expressed in Prince’s emotional words: “Paisley Park is in your heart.”” From paisleypark.com
Paisley Park, Chanhassen, Minnesota is just a few miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. It is easily accessible by car, due west from the MSP airport. Information on tickets (reserve in advance, online) and tour options are available on the website (paisleypark.com). It attracts Prince fans from all over the world! Of the 20 people on our tour, at least 3/4 were from out of state or out of the country.
Additional options for Prince fans – visitors or locals – while in the area:
- First Avenue nightclub, downtown Minneapolis, is a must for a Prince themed visit.
- Minnesota Arboretum, just a couple miles down the road, is a recommended visit before or after a Paisley Park Tour.
- Chanhassen Dinner Theater, nearby in the town of Chanhassen, is a great entertainment venue while in the area.
The 3 Paisley Park ticket options
Your tour selection depends on your level of Prince fan-dom – and your pocket book! They include: the Paisley Experience (90 minutes, $45), the VIP Experience (120 minutes, $85) and the Ultimate Experience (3 hours, $160).
We selected the basic Paisley Experience. For our purpose (and budget!), we felt very satisfied. (Including a service fee and sale tax, our two $45 tickets cost us $111). The tour was professional, well done, and we felt that Prince, his life and legacy were well represented and balanced without making an idol out of him.
“Paisley Park is in your Heart”
“For love is the color this place imparts. Admission is easy, just say you Believe and come to this place in your heart. Paisley Park is in your heart”
The plaque on the sign under his symbol sculpture by the entrance is a great summary of his life and legacy.
“Born in Minneapolis to humble beginnings, Prince Rogers Nelson embodied the journey from child prodigy to international superstar. Prince’s music prowess, iconic style, and zest for life secured his legacy as a cultural icon. With a career spanning over four decades, Prince’s unparalleled talents, innovation, leadership and defiance changed the business of entertainment in ways that will be observed for years to come. Paisley Park is more than a place–it’s a love story that chronicles Prince’s musical journey, his style evolution, diligence, free-spirited creativity, and culture, that now serves as a cornerstone of his legacy.
Welcome 2 Paisley Park.”
The Paisley Experience: the Tour
- 90 Minute, guided tour. (Our tour guide was excellent, informed, personable and interesting)
- Main floor of Paisley Park. This included reception areas, personal hangout space, and studios where Prince recorded, produced and mixed some of his biggest hits. We visited several studios and got a good feeling of the magnitude of his life and influence.
- Massive sound stage and concert hall. Where Prince rehearsed for tours and held exclusive private events and concerts. A screen performance with sound a light show displayed highlights of his concert scene. We were able to take photos in this area.
- NPG Music Club. Prince held countless late-night performances in this club. Today, this space is open for special events. Check website for events, availability and tickets.
- Beautiful Shoes special exhibition. A room displaying over 300 pair of Prince’s custom designed shoes was included in our tour. (I am not sure how long this exhibit will be here, so check before you come.)
Tour tickets – and details on the more extensive VIP Tour and Ultimate Experience – are available on the paisleypark.com website.
Security and COVID precautions were taken serious. Masks were required. Our cell phones were shut off when we entered and placed in special pouches (an experience in and of itself!). These were secured and locked (but kept with us personally) until we got to the last room. This prevented rampant and unauthorized use of trigger-finger-happy-fan-photography! It also made the tour much more focused on listening to the tour guide and not be distracted by what to photograph! They were released in the last room we visited – and indoor photos I’ve included were taken by me at that time.
On Display: Sound Stage & Concert Hall
The Sound Stage and Concert Hall held displays of some of the items used in his performances and films.
A large screen performance and light show was said to be as close to a live performance as possible. They did a fantastic job of showcasing his major hits and concerts along with lots of costume changes! (Of course!) It was an excellent overview.
Our cell phone/cameras were released from “captivity” upon entrance to this room.
We could photograph to our heart’s content! And we did! Included here are some of my photos in this space.
Props and costumes from his various films were on display.
On Display: Prince as a Fashion Icon
The Sound Stage and Concert Hall displayed some of Prince’s most famous wardrobes and props. One of the things I learned was that Prince was a phenomenal designer and artist. I had not realized that he personally designed and sketched out his own iconic costumes and matching shoes. They were phenomenal!
Here is a continued sample of what was on view. We were allowed to take photos in this area.
On Display: Prince’s Custom Shoes
Beyond his legacy in music, along with his costumes, this incredible shoe collection is an example of his artistic expression, personality and lasting impact on fashion. Each pair of shoes was specifically paired with the costume with which it was to be worn.
I developed a whole new sense of appreciation for his artistic genius in viewing his costumes and shoes.
We were thrilled to be able to see the special exhibit spotlighting Prince’s expansive collection of custom footwear. Featuring over 300 pairs of his stunning shoes, it included his signature Versace heeled boots and the white heeled sneakers he wore to perform at Coachella 2008.
Fascinating and informative interviews of the designers/cobblers who worked with him to create these shoes was a highlight of the exhibit. (This was an area where our phones/cameras were locked and we were not allowed to take photos)
More info at people.com/style/prince-urban-decay-collection-paisley-park-shoe-exhibit-details/
On Display: the NPG* Music Club
Prince held countless late-night performances and entertained his friends and fans in this space. I recall hearing news blurbs about Prince being in town and hosting events – in this room!
*NPG Records is a record label that was owned by Prince and run by Trevor Guy. “NPG” is short for New Power Generation. It was founded to release his music.
This venue remains open for performances and concerts today. See website for details and how to get tickets.
NPG Music Club was available for us to explore and photograph.
Paisley Park: A Showcase for Prince’s Films
And the Inadvertent Impact of Prince on Parental Advisory Labels
Prince turned the music industry upside down with his innovative funk and unconventional business models, but one of his most impactful moves was entirely inadvertent: he inspired the “Parental Advisory” label on CDs.
When Prince commanded the music scene in the 1980s and 90s, I was totally immersed in my child-rearing career. My music listening selections during this time had taken a 180 degree turn and had moved to the genre the likes of Disney Soundtracks and Wee Sing!
“Purple Rain” is his first film, a semi-biographical plot line which revolves around Prince as a budding young musician. Much of it was filmed in Minneapolis, Prince’s hometown, including First Avenue nightclub which was closed to the public for several weeks to accommodate the filming. Musical performances by Prince are the highlights of the film.
“Purple Rain” grossed $70 million and earned Prince an Academy Award for Best Song Score. The album stayed at number one for 12 weeks, yielded five top ten singles, and sold nine million copies in the United States by 1985.
As soon as the public confirmed “Purple Rain” as a classic, Prince knew he would live in its shadow. He embraced it and Purple and Prince became synonymous.
When Prince put out his ground-breaking album based on the film “Purple Rain,” (1985) major red flags were raised by Parent Advisory advocates including Tipper Gore, wife of VP Al Gore. This X-rating put anything Prince did automatically on our Do Not Watch list. Hence, personal experience with anything related to Prince was very limited during this time.
Skip and I watched “Purple Rain” in preparation for our tour of Paisley Park. It was a good semi-autobiography of and introduction to Prince’s early life and career. It artfully showcased his music and performance style, which was very helpful in our appreciation of his genius as a musician and artist.
However, even as adults, my husband and I found its extremely sexually explicit scenes and language offensive and would be very cautious on our recommendations as to who watched it.
For more details on the Parent Advisory see “Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society” by Tipper Gore and the USA Today article at usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/04/25/prince-purple-rain-darling-nikki-censorship-lyrics-tipper-gore-column/83466774/
“Graffiti Bridge” is a 1990 American rock musical drama film written, directed by, and starring Prince in his fourth and final major theatrical film role. It is a standalone sequel to his 1984 film Purple Rain.
Like its predecessor, it was accompanied by a soundtrack album of the same name. Filmed at Paisley Park Studios and on location in and around Minneapolis. Graffiti Bridge was an actual iconic bridge in Eden Prairie which was torn down in 1991. There are a lot of memorabilia displays in the Sound & Stage room from this movie.
Prince is a piece of Minneapolis/Minnesota history for which we locals can be very proud! His story from rags to riches is one we can all admire and appreciate. Knowing a bit of Prince and his story first-hand is an important part of our personal journey to increased Cultural Literacy.
The Paisley Park tour was a very worthwhile and enlightening tour. The 3 levels of the experience offer a good variety of options for one’s interest level – for novices like us, or for hard-core Prince fans!
One more thing about Prince…
There is one more piece of information that was included in, but not a focus of our tour. I feel this information is applicable to share with you in order to get a full appreciation of the totality of the genius of Prince. . .
Why did Prince change his Name to a Symbol?
The answer to this fascinating question – always a pertinent one – was provided briefly on our Paisley Park tour. It piqued my interest to delve further. I discovered a website article in sync with the tour information. I’ve noted highlights of this article below. (The website explains it in more depth than I can: faroutmagazine.co.uk/why-prince-changed-his-name-to-a-symbol/. Check it out!)
“Prince was a powerful name for a powerful performer but when he felt like his back was against the wall with his contract with Warner Brothers, and he had nowhere else to turn, he chose to use his name as a way to attack his oppressors in one of pop’s most famous acts of defiance. The singer, then at the height of his fame, chose to remove his name and instead go by either a symbol or ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’ usually simply shortened to ‘The Artist.’ Despite a career littered with landmark occasions, this one is arguably the singer’s defining off-stage moment…”
“The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Brothers was to change my name from Prince to (symbol),” Prince once explained in a press statement. In 1993, Prince was facing a difficult working situation which basically bound him to Warner Brothers and prevented him from releasing too many songs! He was ignored. It wasn’t until Prince changed his name to a symbol that things kicked up a notch.
“Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth,” he wrote in a statement, “Warner Brothers took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Brothers.” He decided, therefore, to ensure that the point really stuck, the singer changed his name to a symbol, one who’s message has been endlessly interpreted…
“Prince chose to stand up to his record label bosses and fight for not only artistic control but personal freedom. He did it with one of the most obvious acts of career-flagellation and with the kind of control that confirms his position as pop music royalty.”
- Photos by Cher B and Skip B, 30 September, 2021, unless otherwise noted
- Far Out Magazine: faroutmagazine.co.uk/why-prince-changed-his-name-to-a-symbol/
- Guided Tour of Paisley Park. 30 September 2021, oral recollections of Cher B & Skip B.
- Paisley Park website: paisleypark.com
- People: people.com/style/prince-urban-decay-collection-paisley-park-shoe-exhibit-details/
- USA Today: usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/04/25/prince-purple-rain-darling-nikki-censorship-lyrics-tipper-gore-column/83466774/