After a few weeks of bureaucratic and logistical difficulties, Paisley Park is finally open for regular tours. City Pages had an opportunity to stroll through Prince’s Chanhassen lair on Wednesday afternoon, and here’s some of what we saw.
The walls contain several gold and platinum album awards, as well as a framed letter from the Obamas expressing condolences after Prince’s death this past April. As you pass through a doorway, above you looms a painting of Prince’s Love Symbol, with his two eyes peering out from either side -- just in case you were thinking about putting your feet up on the furniture or smuggling a cell phone into the building.
The walls are painted to look like blue skies and the couches, of course, are purple, and you might hear Prince’s doves cooing from their cages in the balcony upstairs. There are displays for four Prince albums -- Dirty Mind, Controversy, Diamonds and Pearls, and Sign o’ the Times -- featuring items such as one of Prince’s Telecasters and the handwritten lyrics to “Soft and Wet.” But the room’s centerpiece is the urn containing his remains, crafted to resemble Paisley Park itself.
If Prince’s gazing eyes at the start of the tour gave you pause, stop for a minute and imagine standing before this tiny desk where the tiny man is sitting in his tiny chair and imagine how intimidating the experience would be.
Here a Paisley Park associate presents an array of Prince performance clips to give you a taste of how much unseen video must be tucked away in the digital archives here.
The studio where Prince started recording his music in the late ’80s houses a Linn drum and an Oberheim DMX (key components of Prince’s classic ’80s sound) and handwritten notes on a music stand from his final project, a jazz album intended for Blue Note Records.
Purple Rain Room
Formerly a dance rehearsal hall, this space now houses artifacts from the era when Prince became a superstar, including a motorcycle used in Purple Rain, a purple coat and ruffled shirt from the era, his copy of the film’s script, his Oscar for Best Original Score, and a keyboard used in the movie.
Under the Cherry Moon/Graffiti Bridge Room
The space honoring Prince’s next two movies showcases black-and-white paisley outfits, amplifiers and instruments from the Parade tour, and a motorcycle and outfit featured in the Purple Rain sequel, Graffiti Bridge.
Decorated by Prince himself, this hall features framed posters and photos that follow his career year by year from 1978 to 1996. It also houses many of his awards -- you know, Grammys, AMAs, MTV moonmen, that sort of thing.
The centerpiece here is a Chanel Pegasus piano with an electronically controlled lid. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it in action.)
A space familiar to anyone who came to Prince’s Paisley Park performances, this now houses instruments and outfits from several major Prince tours, including the custom piano he intended to bring along on his Piano and a Microphone tour.
NPG Music Club
The lounge where Prince held intimate, private dance parties, adorned with trippy kaleidoscope videos and the car grille from the cover of Sign o’ the Times.
Here you can watch Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance and check out a selection of fan art and memorials left behind at the Paisley Park fence after Prince’s death.
Gift and Food Tent
Attached to the building, there are Prince T-shirts and the like for sale, and you can eat from a special vegetarian menu of Prince favorites (check out our food critic's recap here). We were provided with a sampler: grilled cheese, coconut curry with black rice and chickpeas, minestrone, and a cookie. Tasty and almost definitely healthier than a menu of Elvis favorites at Graceland would be.
There are two different Paisley Park tour experiences -- $38.50 for general admission and $100 for VIP. Tickets are available here.