Musician's Mecca in Minnesota

Prince fans will have a Mecca of their own.
Prince fans will have a Mecca of their own.

The Elvis Presley faithful turn to Graceland as their point of pilgrimage. Presley's former estate in Memphis, Tennessee, offers public tours and houses a museum dedicated to the King's life and legacy.

Now, Prince fans will have a Mecca of their own. Paisley Park, the massive complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota, where the musician lived and worked, will be open to the public from October 6.

Prince hosted surprise events at Paisley Park, including one held days before his April death. But the musician generally led a very private life, and few people have toured his estate.

"Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on," said Tyka Nelson, Prince's sister. "Only a few hundred people have had the rare opportunity to tour the estate during his lifetime. Now, fans from around the world will be able to experience Prince's world for the first time as we open the doors to this incredible place."

Bremer Trust, which handles Prince's estate, announced on Wednesday its plans to convert the 6000sq m complex into a museum. Tours will be limited to the main floor, and will take guests through recording and mixing studios, video editing and rehearsal rooms, his sound stage and the performance hall.

The plans also mention a "private NPG music club" will be included on the tour. That's also the name of Prince's now-defunct subscription website that allowed members access to music online, years before streaming services came on the scene.

The museum will display "thousands of artefacts from Prince's personal archives, including iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments, artwork, rare music and video recordings, concert memorabilia, automobiles and motorcycles", Bremer Trust said.

"This will be an unprecedented and extraordinary opportunity for fans to experience first-hand what it was like for Prince to create, produce and perform inside this private sanctuary and remarkable production complex, which is also considered one of the greatest landmarks in the entertainment industry."

Tickets will cost US$38.50 ($52.60). A "VIP Tour" for small groups will also be available, priced at US$100 or more per ticket. Paisley Park will continue to hold concerts and its recording studio will be used for special sessions. But no events are expected until at least March.

An official family tribute concert for Prince will be held October 13 at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The very private Prince hosted an event at Paisley Park days before his death in April. Photo / AP
The very private Prince hosted an event at Paisley Park days before his death in April. Photo / AP

After Prince's untimely death, Paisley Park became a gathering place for fans bearing flowers, tears and hugs.

Prince came up with the concept for Paisley Park while making his film Purple Rain. The US$10 million studio complex opened in 1987, and was referred to as a "mini-Hollywood" at the time.

"The complex is not a personal playroom for Prince," said Richard Henriksen, its general manager, in the Chicago Tribune in 1987.

Henriksen told the newspaper that Prince "built it as a production tool for himself and as a tool for the whole city and the whole area. He wants it to be a catalyst for artists and production".

Prince helped put the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen on the map. Although few have ever seen all of Paisley Park, the accounts that emerged became legendary, including mentions of a vault containing hundreds of unreleased recordings.

As Time described in 1996: "The walls are ringed by zodiac signs, dotted by paintings of puffy clouds and gilded with the artist's gold records. High up on one wall is an illustration of two huge eyes - guess whose? - with a godlike sunburst beaming out from between them. ... And when the artist is on the premises, a glass pyramid that crowns the complex glows with a purplish light."

A subsidiary of Graceland Holdings, which has helped operate the Memphis complex for 30 years, will manage Paisley Park and has provided some money for initial improvement and operating costs. Graceland has had more than 20 million visitors over three decades.

The city of Chanhassen still has to approve a rezoning request to make the Paisley Park museum happen.

- Washington Post

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