Prince is undeniably a genius. His legacy to music and Minneapolis left much richer than he found them. I have been lucky enough to see him and get to attend some special events and have been privy to inside information. But I’m not a super fan – so it was fun to hang out with some super fans.
Also listening to various stories I learned that the right person can push you to quality that you could never have imagined – and maybe you could be that person for yourself. Clearly many of the people who had worked for Prince have been able to do this. And whatever you do, do with confidence.
On Wednesday, I attended a panel of Paisley Park Alumni at the University of Minnesota. It was fun to hear various stories. I happened to go with someone who was also an alum, so it was fun to hear a quiet interpretation too. The story that struck me was from hairdresser Kim Berry. It sounds like she started very young and stayed with him until the end. It was touching to hear how she worked with him. He was known to fall asleep in her chair – one of the few places/times where he would sleep. As she said – he’d say how long so I have to be under the dryer. She’d say 10 minutes. He’d fall asleep for an hour, wake up and ask how long he’d been there. Ten minutes, she’d say. Fun to hear the trust and how people work together.
Then there were just a few comments/lesson that people noted they have learned from Prince –
• If I don’t love it, I don’t do it – from Mayte Garcia
• Never show up empty handed, always do the best you can. Sometimes creativity is s blessing and sometimes it’s a curse – can’t remember who said it
• Like all geniuses, #Prince would make you do what you think you could not do – from Scottie Baldwin
On Thursday I attended Paisley Park 2018 Prince Celebration. Through some awesome connections, I was able to get a ticket to the event. A ticket with parking, which started my day off well. I drove in, gave my name, smiled very nicely and eventually they just let me in!
I got in just in time to see the last portion of the Sheila E talk and in for the tour. One very frustrating thing is that they make you lock up your phone. So I wasn’t able to take pictures or notes. So I just have to go by memory.
It is fun to see the phases of Prince – some of which has been added to the Paisley Park since his death, but going on a limb, I think most of it was there before. There’s a wall of inspiration, a mural that features Prince in the middle with the artists that have influenced Prince flanking one side and artists that Price has influence on the other. There’s a hall with pictures (paintings really) from 1978 to 1996 featuring the many looks of Prince on one side of the hall and various awards on the other.
We got to tour Studios A and B. That was fun. Fun to think of the various artists that have recorded work there. And there’s an Oscar you can hold.
The furniture throughout is pretty awesome. There’s a Schimmel Pegasus Grand Piano – which is a black, fiberglass piano that looks like it’s floating in air. The seating and artifacts are fun. They still look fairly modern, although I’m sure many are decades old. There’s a feel like eventually it may feel like Graceland, which is very much a testament to a time and place.
But Paisley Park is different in that there are the studios and huge performance spaces. It’s fun to hear the stories of the spaces. And there are more museum-like rooms dedicated to his three movies (Purple Rain, Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge) and various albums with motorcycles, video clips and costumes. The tour guides were very good but if I ruled the world, I might get former staff and friends to give the tours for things like the annual celebrations. I’ve heard some of those stories and they are kind of amazing.
The final session of the day was a performance by Sheila E. She is an extraordinary drummer! It was fun to see her and the rest of the musicians. She played all of the songs you’d expect (Glamorous Life, Erotic City, Holly Rock) and several I didn’t know. She took time out to ask attendees to remember the most important word – love. She said noted that love could change the world. Then she asked everyone to turn to a stranger and talk about love. It was could have felt hokey but absolutely perfect for the crowd.
The crowd was my favorite part. These people know more things about Prince than I remember about my own life! I have never seen more Prince t-shirts, shoes, jackets, tattoos – you name it! People cried at various rooms. Everyone had a story and looked for an opportunity to share it – much like upper division college literature classes. (“As I recall when I attended the very exclusive event on March 3, 2014 – that drawer was blue. Do you know when they painted it?) It was great – so great to see the enthusiasm and to know that these people are having one of the best days of their lives!
Of the various video clips we say – I was struck my one thing Prince said (and I paraphrase) – I’m not intimidated by anything, let myself be inspired. Great advice – I mean think of the things we did and wore and it’s just amazing to see what inspiration can do!
Thursday night we went out to the hotel closest to Paisley Park. Total bonus? It was karaoke night! Turns out lots of people playing at Paisley Park hang out there. We met four nice kids who told us they were the horn section for Prince – Prince liked to hire horn players that could dance and these guys could dance. We learned that just because you can play a horn really, does’t mean you can sing. One got up to sing. And he was better than I might be – but he really shone once his buddies got up and they all started the boys band dance. Impressive!
Friday was a shorter day at Paisley Park. We saw some photographers who had worked with Prince. One had a storehouse with hundreds of thousands of actual film she had shot. One had followed a Jessie Jackson campaign before Prince called her. The other was a dancer who took up photography. She was the most frank in her answers. Like how did you get that shadow in picture X? Oh, it was the just. But it was fun to hear about how Prince really pursued these women to work with him. He saw what he wanted and went for it.
One of them noted that Prince worked with and mentored a lot of women. She asked why he surrounded himself with women. Because women get me – he answered.
Next was a panel of dancers. It was fun to hear about their work as well. One noted that what she learned from Prince was to go into any project with full confidence. You might be learning, you might more onto any project but go into it with confidence.
Prince Celebration at Target Center
Thanks to Rick and Omarr we were in the second row for the Prince video/live tour. They show videos of Prince and live musicians play along. Our karaoke friends in the horn section featured highly. It’s very high energy show. They play at least parts of most of the hits. I guess we’d be there a full day if they played them all. There were a few songs that were new to me. The interaction or video and live worked really well. A feat of amazing technology and direction I can imagine.
My favorite part was when a team of super fans – many of whom I recognized from the events at Paisley Park – were brought up on stage to dance. Nothing better than knowing you are watching someone’s best day unfold in front of them.
The Thursday surprise was seeing our friends form the horn section again playing the big room And I was sitting by Jerome Benton, of fDeluxe (and The Family); the band that originally recorder Nothing Compares 2 U. They played on Friday.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished for my camera this weekend – but here are the various pictures I did get: