MINNEAPOLIS >> Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis offers many places where fans can pay homage on the anniversary of his death, from his favorite record store to the humble house used in his Oscar-winning “Purple Rain” film.
Paisley Park, his massive, gleaming white studio and performance complex, was turned into a museum soon after his death on April 21, 2016. A “celebration” planned there for this week with panel discussions, concerts and tours is mostly sold out. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more to see.
This is a must, even if it’s just a drive-by to see the sprawling place rise up from the flatlands in Chanhassen, an easy 20-mile drive from downtown Minneapolis. Guided tours average 70 minutes and include rooms where Prince created some of his biggest hits. The museum is a work in progress, with a recently added room displaying costumes and other artifacts from his “Lovesexy” album and tour.
Optional add-ons include a VIP tour of extra rooms, a photo opportunity, Friday night dance party and Sunday brunch featuring some of his favorite foods.
Much has been made of Prince’s Paisley Park-shaped urn. It was moved from the main atrium at the family’s request to a frosted high-walled fixture above a little kitchen where he sometimes watched TV.
Photos and video are strictly prohibited on all tours.
FIRST AVENUE AND 7TH STREET
This downtown club in a former Greyhound bus depot remains a mecca for Prince fans and an indie rock hot spot. An entrance fee gets you inside the club where Prince played several times, including his first time in 1981 when it was called Sam’s, and in 1983 when he unveiled a longer version of his ballad “Purple Rain.” That gig was recorded, including the mega-hit that became his signature and other songs used in the film.
Brick walls outside are adorned with painted white stars for other artists who played there. Prince’s star stands out in gold.
Prince frequented the Electric Fetus record store. Last year he visited just days before he died, on Record Store Day, April 16, tweeting: “FETUS, THANX 4 THE TUNES! ROCKED STEVIE’S TALKING BOOK ALL THE WAY HOME! #RecordStoreDay,” to which Electric Fetus replied: “Thanks 4 coming in today and for supporting indie record stores year-round!”
His final tweet, April 18, 2016, was another nod to Electric Fetus, promoting the written program for his “Piano & Microphone” tour. The tweet displayed the program’s cover and said, simply: “electricfetus.com.”
When the store opened in 1968, National Lampoon magazine singled it out for the worst name of a business. But it remains an indie mecca for audiophiles — including vinyl-lovers — and drew grieving fans when Prince died.
There are some beauties.
Downtown near 10th Street and Marquette Avenue, a five-story, white-painted wall of musical notes is where Prince shot some of his first publicity photos at age 18. At the time, it was home to Schmitt Music Company, which sold sheet music, pianos and organs. The musical notes are from a piece for piano by French composer Maurice Ravel.
Not far from Paisley Park, at Chanhassen Cinema, 570 Market St., is a huge purple portrait of Prince by muralist Graham Hoete. He told WCCO-TV he did it at the request of Minnesotans who saw photos of a Prince mural he painted in Sydney, where he lived.
Another purple portrait, complete with a white dove like the ones Prince kept at Paisley, was created by Bloomington, Minn., graffiti artist Rock “Cyfi” Martinez. It’s in an alley on one wall of the Sencha Tea Bar, 2601 Hennepin Ave. S., in the funky Uptown district Prince shouted out in song.
‘PURPLE RAIN’ HOUSE
Prince’s famous Purple House residence in the woods of Lake Riley in Chanhassen was bulldozed more than a decade ago, but the simple “Purple Rain” home used in the movie stands, empty and a bit worse for wear. Head to 3420 Snelling Ave. in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood for a look at the outside. Prince never lived here, but his character “The Kid” came of age there in the 1984 film. Some purple flowers were tucked into the mailbox on a recent visit.
Other Prince-related houses are around, as are some of his old schools, studios where he recorded and other hangouts. The city’s visitor’s bureau has compiled a map.
The famous marked-up railroad crossing from “Graffiti Bridge,” his 1990 sequel to “Purple Rain,” was replaced in 1991 by a popular bicycle and running path in suburban Eden Prairie. The bridge — covered with messages dating from the 1960s — had a heady, counterculture feel. The movie led Prince fans to add their own graffiti. But the replacement bike path is pristine.
After Prince’s death, devastated fans left farewell messages in black marker and purple spray paint on a highway underpass near Paisley Park, using the “love” symbol he created for himself. Getting there is tricky. Cross the busy highway leading to Paisley Park at the exit side of the parking lot, look for a West 78th Street sign and turn toward a walking path. The tunnel is marked Riley Creek.