Shrine O’ The Times

Nelson Mail - - TRAVEL -

For Baby Boomers there has long been a pil­grim­age for fans of the great­est rock’n’roll star of their gen­er­a­tion. Grace­land opened in 1982, five years af­ter Elvis Pres­ley’s death. It is one of the most fa­mous at­trac­tions in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee.

But now Gen­er­a­tion X has its own mu­sic me­mo­rial mecca to jour­ney to. Pais­ley Park is the former home and record­ing stu­dio of Prince. The pro­lific artist was be­hind hits like 1999, When Doves Cry and Kiss. His ca­reer spanned 30 years and it’s hard to over­state his im­pact on pop­u­lar mu­sic.

The star died aged 57 in April 2016 in the el­e­va­tor of the prop­erty. In Au­gust the same year, Pais­ley Park opened for tours. It may seem a bit too soon, but staff as­sure me Prince al­ways in­tended for Pais­ley Park to open to the pub­lic at some point.

Lo­cated out­side Minneapolis in Min­nesota, where Prince grew up and spent most of his life, Pais­ley Park was com­pleted in 1988. The build­ing it­self seems noth­ing spe­cial – its some­what bland rec­tan­gu­lar shapes bring to mind a typ­i­cal cor­po­rate in­dus­trial park build­ing.

No liq­uids, no bags and no record­ing equip­ment are al­lowed and our phones have to be placed in locked se­cu­rity pouches. A guide is with you the whole time.

We start the tour by pass­ing the stairs to the first floor. Up­stairs, Prince’s pri­vate liv­ing area is still

He checks out how His Royal Pur­ple High­ness liked to live.

off-lim­its. But it doesn’t mat­ter much – there is plenty to see.

We en­ter a large hall, with bright white tiles and colour­ful decor. Above us, a small replica of Pais­ley Park is mounted on the wall, topped by Prince’s iconic Love Sym­bol. It’s a shock to learn this model ac­tu­ally con­tains Prince’s ashes.

Within re­cesses in the walls are some of Prince’s out­ra­geous outfits and gui­tars from dif­fer­ent eras of his ca­reer, as well as hand-writ­ten notes and lyrics from some of his most fa­mous songs.

Var­i­ous rooms branch off from this space, in­clud­ing Prince’s pri­vate of­fice, still full of his per­sonal items. There’s also an Amer­i­can-diner style space where Prince would en­ter­tain guests and have staff cook meals.

Over the years dozens of ma­jor artists used the stu­dios, in­clud­ing Ste­vie Won­der, James Brown and R.E.M. Our next stops are the two sound stu­dios where we hear some ex­cerpts from Prince’s last record­ings – an un­named jazz project. There’s a ping pong ta­ble in one stu­dio – it’s the only item on the tour that visi­tors are al­lowed to touch.

From there, it’s the dance stu­dio (which dou­bled as a bas­ket­ball court) where chore­og­ra­phy for mu­sic videos and con­certs would be de­vel­oped. It’s now home to some of Prince’s mo­tor­cy­cles, in­clud­ing the Honda fea­tured in the movie Pur­ple Rain. Prince also had his own sound stage, a huge per­for­mance space where he could record mu­sic videos or per­form con­certs. Here, a gi­ant screen shows some of his best live per­for­mances.

Then there’s the New Power Gen­er­a­tion Mu­sic Club, Prince’s per­sonal nightspot that he would open to lo­cals on a whim and oc­ca­sion­ally per­form. In the days be­fore so­cial me­dia, the only way to find out that the club was open­ing for the evening was word of mouth and lo­cals would queue for hours in freez­ing weather for a chance to get in.

Our fi­nal stop, be­fore the oblig­a­tory gift shop, is a wall filled with mes­sages, draw­ings and trib­utes from fans that were left out­side af­ter the star died. In the back­ground, Prince’s leg­endary Su­per­bowl half-time per­for­mance in 2007, where he per­formed his hits plays on a loop.

The writer trav­elled as a guest of Brand USA and Ex­plore Min­nesota.


The main hall at Pais­ley Park con­tains some of the mu­si­cian’s hand-writ­ten lyrics and notes, his gui­tars and even his ashes.


Prince had many cus­tom bikes at his home in­clud­ing the fa­mous one from Pur­ple Rain.


Pais­ley Park is a non­de­script build­ing on the out­skirts of Minneapolis.


Prince died age 57 af­ter a ca­reer span­ning 30 years.

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