I recently had the privilege of touring the late Prince’s suburban Minneapolis home, Paisley Park, which gave an intimate look into the life of the controversial artist. For the entire week leading up to my tour, I felt somewhat nervous and excited at the same time. I was going to visit Paisley Park in a few days and I couldn’t contain my smile. After all, this was the Graceland of Prince Rogers Nelson and I would be walking the same halls he once did. Needless to say, I was hyped!
The Build Up
As I began the 40 minute drive from Minneapolis to Chanhassen, there were so many things going through my mind. I was finally going to see Prince’s home/studio/club/performance place and all of a sudden…BOOM! At first glance, the 65,000 square foot complex looked like a secret government building rather than a studio home. There was a very noticeable chain link fence around the compound which was covered with tributes such as letters, poems, and flowers. Since I was a bit early for my tour, I began following the tribute fences which eventually lead me to an underground bridge that was littered with personal letters and portraits of Prince; a hidden treat.
The Tour Begins
It was finally time for my tour and I made my way back to the entrance of Paisley Park. Upon entering, I was ordered to place my cell phone in a neoprene bag and it was hermetically sealed so that no one can unlock it and take photos. We were all warned that if you’re caught taking a picture, you would be banned from the premises for life. At first glance, it was obvious that Prince created his own world at Paisley Park. As the tour began, we entered the main room of the complex. It was a big circular shaped room with smaller rooms surrounding it. Each of the surrounding rooms represented a different album that included costumes, instruments and video memorabilia. The room also contained two cages of white doves and the purple one’s ashes which were placed in an urn designed like a scaled down replica of the Paisley Park compound. One thing that stood out to me was the size of Prince’s clothing. I always knew Prince was small (5’2” 112 lbs.), but the realization hit me of how such a small statured man could be such a huge rock icon.
After leaving the main room, we were lead to the main recording studio room. This is the place where the magic happened. Upon entering the studio, our tour guide explained the vast amount of music that was found in his vault. Imagine this, there was such a large amount of music found in his vaults that an album can be released each year, for the next 100 years! The highlight of the studio room was the unreleased jazz track that was played for us by our tour guide. It sounded like Prince himself was in the booth jamming away.
My Favorite Part of Paisley Park
As our tour guide led us to the next room, we were treated to a timeline wall of Prince’s accolades which included Grammies, American Music Awards, MTV Awards and Soul Train Awards. At the end of memory lane, we entered the Purple Rain room. This was the highlight of the tour for me personally. Purple Rain is my favorite movie and album so obviously, I felt a direct connection to this room. Upon entering the room, clips of Purple Rain were playing on a giant wall. Other memorabilia in the room included one of the motorcycles from the movie, the actual purple piano (with heel marks from dancing on it), the movie script, his Oscar and, of course, the iconic purple jacket. I was blown away! Adjoining this room were the Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge rooms. These rooms displayed props and clips from both movies. After leaving these rooms, we were lead to Prince’s sitting room which contained a unique looking Schimmel Pegasus piano and an unusual custom chair.
After leaving Prince’s sitting room, we were taken into the biggest room in Paisley Park; the film production room where he filmed Graffiti Bridge. The room is about 12,000 square feet and included five stages with memorabilia from some of Prince’s iconic tours throughout his career. The room also contains two of his favorite vehicles; a powder blue Bentley coupe and a purple Prowler. There was also the NPG (New Power Generation) room/club, which was an extension of the production room which had a smaller intimate lounge feel to it. Our tour guide explained that Prince would often put on these impromptu late night parties and performances in the NPG room. Our tour guide also mentioned, Prince would often watch one of his favorite movies, Finding Nemo, on the big screen as a way to relax amongst his fans.
The final area of the tour took us to a room that had a collection of memorabilia that was sent to Paisley Park from fans around the world after his death. Adjacent to the memorabilia, there was a big screen that played Prince’s famed Super Bowl performance where he sang Purple Rain, in the pouring rain. An amazing way to close out the tour!
With all the rumors I’ve heard throughout the years about Paisley Park, I’ve learned one truth about the compound. Prince built a world of his own to indulge all of his creative whims. Paisley Park offers fans a unique experience that displays his genius, honors his legacy and carries forward his music for generations to come.