Prince is dead.
The eccentric music legend was the purple, majestic superstar of Minnesota. He died Thursday inside his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Mourners from around the Twin Cities gathered outside Paisley Park on Thursday afternoon to pay their respects to The Purple One.
Kim Gallogly and Melinda Fitzgerald, both of Chanhassen, were crying on the lawn outside Paisley’s gates, mourning the loss of their hometown hero. Both in their ‘50s, the pair have been fans of Prince’s since his ‘80s heyday. They saw the icon perform around the Twin Cities, most notably at a Dakota Jazz Club show a few years ago.
“The Dakota concert was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will stay with us forever,” Fitzgerald says. “It was so intimate and he was so great.”
They laugh at a local rumor that some nearby high school kids talk about. Legend has it that if you hung around Chanhassen's Byerly's grocery store around 3 a.m., you might catch a glimpse of Prince using his own private key to shop in the store alone.
"Everyone has a Prince-sighting story," Fitzgerald says. "You'd see him on his bike, at Caribou — he was always around."
“Once you became a fan, you were a fan for forever,” Gallogly said. “It brings back when Michael Jackson died. For us, that was on TV, it was that far removed. This is home. This is personal. But he’s every bit the entertainer and musician that Michael Jackson was.”
Brett Lane, another nearby griever, remembered the first time he heard Prince’s music.
“I first saw him on American Bandstand with Dick Clark," Lane says. "He played 'I Wanna Be Your Lover.'”
He also remembered seeing Purple Rain in theaters with his next-door neighbor, a girl he had a crush on.
As an adult, Lane travels across the country professionally. Whenever he tells people he’s from Minnesota, they always bombard him with Prince love.
“I lot of people identify Prince with Minnesota: It’s the same thing,” Lane sighs. “We still have Bob Dylan.”
Bev Gossard and Kris Spangrud walked to Paisley Park from their church, Family of Christ, down the street. Though neither were too familiar with Prince’s music, he’d certainly left his mark on their lives.
“My daughter was so crazy about him, I had to paint her bedroom purple,” Gossard remembers with a laugh.
Spangrud said that Family of Christ often had to close off their parking on Saturday nights, so Prince party-goers wouldn’t block Sunday morning church-goers. Despite the parties, Spangrud liked having Prince around.
“He was a good neighbor,” Spangrud said. “He owned a lot of land in Chanhassen, and I loved him because he left it natural. He didn’t let housing developments come in.”
Another Prince mourner, Tina Evans, drove with her brother, Branch Reed, from Blaine, Minnesota, to Paisley Park to pay her respects. She spoke of Prince less like a pop icon, and more like he was just an old childhood friend.
“Back when we were young, he’d say stuff you weren’t supposed to say, and he’d do shit you weren’t supposed to do,” Evans said. “He was cool, sexy, hot.”
In Minneapolis, mourners assembled outside First Avenue, the iconic venue so closely associated with the iconic artist. A mound of flowers grew beneath Prince's star on First Ave's outer wall.