Photo's by: Patrick Dunn
Magic Lives on at Prince's Paisley Park
By: Jonathan Flemming
Few people were lucky enough to enter the doors of Paisley Park while in operation, but visitors can now walk these magical halls and rooms that became the epicenter of Prince’s creative universe. Tours of Paisley Park, Prince’s home and recording studio, began in October.
The eyes of Prince greet you from the “sky” as you enter the legendary Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. A mural painted sky blue with clouds and gold doves continues into the atrium. Months after Prince’s untimely passing, Paisley Park sits almost untouched and remains just as the Purple One left it. “Before the music, before all the gold and platinum records, before Purple Rain, Prince imagined this,” our tour guide described Prince’s brainchild Paisley Park, “his personality and persona are around every corner.”
Four pyramid-style skylights flood the atrium with natural light. This is the first stop in the tour and maybe the most profound. Directly below the skylight, sits the custom built urn, where Prince’s ashes are now kept. The urn is an exact replica of Paisley Park and is quite a sight to behold. Keeping watch from the balcony are Prince’s doves, Divinity and Majesty.
What were once offices have been transformed into various themed rooms showcasing concert wardrobe and instruments used for different tours. A personal lyric notebook from the “Dirty Mind” period highlights Prince’s stunning penmanship and upon closer examination, you’ll notice that he dotted his i’s with hearts.
Prince’s personal office is outfitted with custom furniture and even a purple phone. The Edit Bay (VIP tour) where Prince would sit and scour over the endless amount of interviews and concert footage remains as it was, with bookcases still filled with 100’s of compact discs, containing different sound effects libraries.
The famous Studio A, where Prince crafted many of his 39 studio albums, smells of cherry wood from the sound diffusers that line the walls in the live room. Through the glass of the control room you can see the Lynn LM-1 drum machine and the Oberheim OB-X synthesizer used to create the driving drum beats and addicting synth lines of When Doves Cry, among many, many others. Both producer and engineer, a microphone still extends over the mixing console showing where Prince would sit and record many of his vocals.
Passing through Influence Hallway, you enter the Purple Rain room. Originally a dance rehearsal space, the room is now home to the motorcycle from the movie, the actual Oscar statue Prince received for Best Original Score, and his personal script from Purple Rain bound in purple leather.
Other highlights include exhibits showcasing Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge movies and subsequent tours, the NPG club, and History Hallway. The Hallway was designed by Prince and is an example of his early intention to make Paisley Park a museum. Walking down the hallway you get a visual of the immense amount of content he created during his life and also the accompanying accolades he received along the way. Grammy Awards, MTV Music Video Awards, even a “gold” 45 record received from the Minnesota Music Academy are framed in purple.
The huge 12,500 square foot soundstage is hued in purple light and is filled with everything from Prince’s last guitar he received as a gift to his purple Plymouth Prowler. Some fans may have danced in this room during one of Prince’s famous and spontaneous all-night parties.
The tour ends with homage to his magnificent Super Bowl XLI halftime performance and the fan-created fence memorial that was erected on the surrounding fence at the Paisley Park complex after Prince’s death.
The magic lives on at Paisley Park and you can feel it the second you walk through the doors. The tour gives an up close look at a place you have only heard stories about and a glimpse into the life of the man who called it home.
Special themed tour experiences were recently announced and slated to start December 1st. Some of these include recording live vocals over a segment of a Prince song, weekend dance parties in the NPG club, and Sunday brunches. Tours run Thursday through Sunday. See officialpaisleypark.com for more details and to buy tickets.