Buses full of eager Prince fans began rolling into Paisley Park early Thursday.
Public tours of the late superstar's compound were granted a temporary green light Tuesday while the Chanhassen City Council squares away zoning issues with Graceland Holdings, which now runs Paisley.
Joel Weinshanker, a managing partner with PPark Management, greeted members of the press Thursday outside Paisley's front door. "The same people who Prince trusted to put these things together, [they're the] same people doing this," he said, name-checking NPG Records president Trevor Guy and other Prince associates who helped turn the recording studio/venue/residence into a museum.
Decked out in purple garb, Weinshanker didn't provide any updates on the city council standoff, only offering, "I think Prince's love will win out."
He insisted every dollar generated from tours ("at least for a long time") will benefit the preservation of Paisley Park. The building had air conditioning issues, he said, putting some artifacts and recordings at risk, including unreleased songs and videos that will "blow people's minds." Prince reportedly left detailed plans on how he envisioned Paisley as a public space, and much was left untouched after his death from accidental drug overdose in April.
"You feel Prince -- you see the genius," Weinshanker said of the 65,000-square-foot estate, likening it to Leonardo da Vinci's workshop. "I dare you to not get emotional."
Gloria Brown of Chicago expressed her emotions as she stepped off the first bus with her sister. She was "devastated" by the loss of Prince, but was "pumped and ready to go" for the very first Paisley tour.
She's one of the lucky ones, since the city council only OK'ed three days for public tours, despite the fact $38.50 and $100 tickets were sold for several other dates.
Graceland Holdings, which also runs Elvis Presley's mansion-turned-museum in Memphis, Tennessee, is doing its best to accommodate those ticket buyers, representative David Beckwith said. He anticipates squeezing through "thousands" of guests Thursday, Saturday, and October 14, the same day an all-star Prince tribute concert goes down at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.
Once inside Paisley, fans are apparently greeted with a view of the urn holding Prince's remains, if we're to believe early social media buzz (UPDATE: Beckwith confirmed to City Pages that Prince's ashes are, in fact, inside that urn). Unexpected! Here's devoted Prince blogger Jeremiah Freed (aka Dr. Funkenberry):
Other sights include the atrium, recording studio, performance stage, basketball court, and loads of memorabilia and artifacts on display. Prince's private living spaces are closed off from tours. It's all theoretical for ol' City Pages, though, since our media access only extended to the parking lot.
Take a cyber peek at what to expect via these photos provided by Paisley Park and NPG Records:
The recording studio
Purple Rain exhibit