In­stant Karma!

Pho­tog­ra­pher Allen Beaulieu re­veals the real story be­hind Prince’s Graf­fiti Bridge

UNCUT - - Contents - Prince Be­fore The Rain is pub­lished by Min­nesota His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Press; Allen Beaulieu’s col­lec­tion of Prince mer­chan­dise is avail­able from rock­it­poole.com SAM RICHARDS

Prince, Ron­nie Wood, Gazelle Twin, The At­tack, Hen Ogledd

On a bright af­ter­noon in au­tumn 1981, driv­ers pass­ing through a one-lane rail­way bridge on the out­skirts of Eden Prairie, Min­nesota, were sur­prised to see a fa­mil­iar fig­ure adding his name to the graf­fiti. The re­lease of Dirty Mind the pre­vi­ous year had made Prince a lo­cal celebrity, and he was con­spic­u­ously clad in the same trench­coat he was wear­ing on that al­bum’s eye-catch­ing sleeve – al­beit with a lit­tle more on un­der­neath.

“I kept telling Prince we had to shoot at ‘Graf­fiti Bridge’,” says pho­tog­ra­pher Allen Beaulieu, who also shot the Dirty Mind cover af­ter hook­ing up with Prince in late 1979. “One day he fi­nally caved in, so we drove there in my van and he quickly got up on a cou­ple of my cam­era cases to write his name. Peo­ple driv­ing by kept recog­nis­ing him, so I only shot a roll and a half be­fore he hopped back in the van and said, ‘Take me outta here!’ The pho­tos have never been seen be­fore now.”

Prince Be­fore The Rain is a new pho­to­book com­pil­ing the many pic­tures Beaulieu took of Prince from 1979 to ’84, dur­ing which time he was the bud­ding su­per­star’s near-con­stant com­pan­ion. As well as the strik­ing cover im­ages for Dirty Mind, Con­tro­versy and (some edi­tions of) 1999, they in­clude promo cam­paigns, mag­a­zine fea­tures, live shots and re­veal­ing back­stage pho­tos, one of which was used as the cover for this year’s archival re­lease, Pi­ano & A Mi­cro­phone 1983.

“We be­came very good friends,” says Beaulieu. “On tour one time in Cleve­land, he called me up and said, ‘Hey Al, do you wanna go and play videogames?’ So we went out to the ar­cade and played Cen­tipede un­til four in the morn­ing. He put on a hoodie and no­body recog­nised him. We were like kin­dred spir­its.” Beaulieu was eased out of the pic­ture just be­fore Pur­ple Rain – hence the book’s ti­tle – but was touched sev­eral years later when Prince named his 1990 film Graf­fiti Bridge. “Some­thing must have stuck with him, al­though I think he liked the name more than he liked the ac­tual lo­ca­tion!”

A sign of the times: Prince, inDirty Mind mac, at ‘graf­fiti Bridge’, min­nesota, 1981

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