Prince fans headed to Paisley Park five years after death

Prince fans headed to Paisley Park five years after death

Prince Prince Park death Paisley fans years five to headed after

Wed, 21 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700

A custom-made ceramic urn shaped like Paisley Park with Prince's symbol on top was originally placed in the middle of the atrium when the pop legend's 65,000- 

Prince fans headed to Paisley Park five years after death

April 21, 2021

In this Feb. 4, 2007, file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

CHANHASSEN, Minn. — Paisley Park, where Prince lived and worked, will welcome back a select 1,400 fans Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of his death from inside his creative sanctuary.

The sprawling studio’s atrium will be opened to those who rushed for one of the free reservations, while other fans can leave flowers and mementos in front of a statue erected outside the front doors in the shape of his famous purple Love Symbol.

A custom-made ceramic urn shaped like Paisley Park with Prince’s symbol on top was originally placed in the middle of the atrium when the pop legend’s 65,000-square-foot studio in suburban Minneapolis first opened as a museum in October 2016. At the request of Prince’s family, the ashes were moved to a less prominent spot in the atrium and eventually removed entirely from public view, disappointing the superstar’s legions of fans.

This is the first time the urn has returned to the atrium for display to the public.

Prince died April 21, 2016, of an accidental fentanyl overdose at age 57, shocking fans and setting off waves of grief around the world. Since then, Paisley Park was turned into a museum and paid tours were created. Tours were shut down for the day to mark the fifth anniversary.

“We celebrate his life and legacy every day at Paisley Park, a place that Prince wanted to share with the world,” Paisley Park Executive Director Alan Seiffert said in a statement. “So, on this day especially, we acknowledge the incredible force and inspiration Prince is in people’s lives and open up our doors for them to pay their respects.”

Paisley Park will also post an online memorial at

Pepe Willie, Prince’s uncle and an early music mentor, still tears up when he thinks of the lost star.

“It was devastating,” he recently told The Associated Press of the moment he learned the news. “I’m standing in the living room with my underwear on watching the TV. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t do anything. I was just in so much shock. It was unbelievable.”

Known as the “godfather of the Minneapolis sound,” he met Prince as a young musical prodigy after marrying his aunt. The pair developed a bond through music, with Prince soaking up his knowledge about the music business and playing for Willie in a recording studio.

“I cried for him so hard,” Willie said. “I didn’t even cry at my father’s funeral.”


Wed, 21 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700

Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the death of musical icon Prince, and the world has not felt the same since he left us


Nowhere does that feel more true 

Prince: Five years after his death, his beloved Minneapolis has been in turmoil

April 21, 2021

(CNN)Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the death of musical icon Prince, and the world has not felt the same since he left us.

Nowhere does that feel more true than in the city he both loved and helped to put on the map, Minneapolis.

Racial strife existed in the city long before the murder of George Floyd — a fellow Black man who also adored Minneapolis. But the trial of the police officer who caused his death, coupled with police recently killing another Minnesota Black man, Daunte Wright, have heightened racial tensions and attracted a global spotlight.

In many ways it feels like Prince foretold that these days would come.

“Does anybody hear us pray?/For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray?/Peace is more than the absence of a war,” Prince sang on his 2015 protest song “Baltimore,” which was written after Freddie Gray died of injuries following an arrest by Baltimore police. “Are we gonna see another bloody day?/We're tired of cryin' & people dyin'.”

“If there ain't no justice, then there ain't no peace,” Prince sang.

The man born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958 died April 21, 2016 at the age of 57 from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl.

I grew up listening to his music and covered his death extensively for CNN, even writing of my experience attending what would become his last night of concerts.

Five years later, I can't help but reflect on what the man and the artist might have made of what's been happening in his hometown. I imagine how heartbroken he would have been, how he probably would have taken to the streets to protest and the great art that may have come from his pain.

Minneapolis became synonymous with Prince, perhaps, against the odds.

He recounted some of his earliest encounters with racism when he was among the students bused from North Minneapolis to a predominately White elementary school in the late 1960s.

“I went to school with the rich kids who didn't like having me there,” he recalled in his 2019 posthumous memoir, “The Beautiful Ones.” When student called him the N-word, Prince threw a punch. “I felt I had to,” he wrote.

“I was born here, unfortunately,” Prince reportedly said in an interview with his high school newspaper before he became famous, according to Far Out Magazine. “I think it is very hard for a band to make it in this state, even if they're good. Mainly because there aren't any big record companies or studios in this state.”

Fame and massive success found him anyway with his debut, self-produced album “For You,” that he released in 1978 at the age of 19.

He would go on to become the architect of the “Minneapolis Sound,” which gifted the world with groups and artists including The Time, Sheila E. and super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

His Paisley Park complex became not only his home, but a sacred space and now a tourist attraction. His longtime hairstylist and friend Kim Berry talked to me in shortly after his death in 2016 about how much Prince loved his city.

“There are homeless people walking around Minneapolis right now wearing coats from Prince and they don't even know it,” Berry said at the time of the work the singer did through his Love 4 One Another Foundation

And as much as Prince gave Minneapolis, the city and its people loved him right back and gave the intensely private star respect.

“He had the freedom to do stuff here and not worry about paparazzi bothering him,” former Paisley Park security guard Lars Larson told Channel 4 CBS Minnesota in 2016. “I remember he would take trips to Dairy Queen in his BMW. I don't know if you can get away with that in Hollywood.”

Prince was more public about his work for racial equality.

He let that be known while presenting the album of the year award at the Grammys in 2015.

“Albums still matter,” he said. “Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.”

In keeping with his spiritual beliefs, Prince chose to keep his philanthropy quiet so as not to seek glory for himself.

But after his death, his friend and CNN contributor Van Jones spoke to Rolling Stone about the singer working with him on Green for All, an organization that creates green jobs in disadvantaged communities as well as #YesWeCode that helps educate urban youth about technology.

Prince also sent money to the family of Trayvon Martin after the teen's death sparked demonstrations and traveled to Baltimore for a concert to bring attention to Freddie Gray's death.

The music video for his single “Baltimore” ends with a quote from Prince.

“The system is broken,” the quote reads. “It's going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life…”

None of us ever imagined that Prince wouldn't be around to see young people trying to do just that.

– April 21, 2021