You know who I am referring to by the mention of “purple” and “highness.” He mesmerized people with his singing, music, dancing, and those magnificent eyes. His name is Prince Rogers Nelson. I am not using past tense at this moment because his “friends” aka fans and estate have made sure that he lives forever. He may have left this realm on April 21, 2016. However, the musical and spiritual genius will never be forgotten. His Paisley Park estate has been turned into a museum, per the instructions of Prince, to be opened to the public for viewing.
As soon as the concert date was announced, I purchased tickets for the museum to correspond with the date of the concert. I highly recommend the VIP tour. If you go, you may as well do it big! Don’t be cheap with yourself! I booked a hotel (which I canceled later) near the first announced concert venue. Dernise, my Road Diva, and I stayed with relatives. I used a vacation day to be off work to stalk Ticketmaster to purchase our concert tickets for The Official Prince Tribute at the Xcel Energy Center before they were sold out. I was totally overjoyed to have tickets since the tickets sold out within minutes! We named it our Prince Road Trip! We drove six hours from Chicago to Minnesota. The entire time we were like teenagers.
For many of his friends/fans, the tribute concert was the beginning of accepting that Prince has moved on, and did not disappear to live happily on an island. The pre-concert event consisted of everyone in some form of purple: hair or clothes, in honor of Prince. Reporters were interviewing people. Radio stations were perched in their booths. Vendors were selling Prince souvenirs.
The stadium was filled with Prince’s fans from every corner. The concert brilliantly showed the magnificence of Prince’s gifts, his music and producing. The concert lineup was Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Morris Day & The Time, Doug E. Fresh, and many other people. We were thrilled to be in attendance of this memorable event. Anita Baker, Christina Aguilera, and John Mayer were no shows. I was a bit disappointed because I’m a fan of them. The other listed names performed marvelously. Morris Day & The Time performed one of my favorite songs, “The Bird.” They still got it! I had a huge crush on Jerome Benton back in the day but he wasn’t with the band. I later found out that he no longer performs with the group. Sigh!
Judith Hill tore up “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.” She can sang! YouTube her! You can’t say enough about a performance from Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan because they are always topnotch entertainers. At one point, Stevie Wonder, was overcome mildly with sorrow from missing his dear friend, Prince. Doug E. Fresh beat boxed in a way only he can and the crowd was joyous and rocking with him. Prince muses covered many of his songs. I could go on and on but that would be hard because the concert began at around 7 p.m. and lasted until approximately 12:00 a.m. We still wanted more and didn’t want it to end. It felt too much like a goodbye.
Dernise and I attended the museum the next day. Due to zoning issues, the museum was granted temporary use and we lucked up (blessed) into attending on one of the dates not cancelled. We parked in a parking lot in Chanhassen and a bus picked us up to drive us to the museum. Everyone was in a very calm mood but underneath it all just a tad bit nervous. We didn’t know what to expect. Although there are photos and videos of Prince’s estate all over the internet, many of us had never visited. We didn’t know how we would feel. Would emotion overcome us? Many people think it’s too soon from Prince’s passing and I understand their logic. However, since life is so short, I wanted to experience it while I could.
We exited the bus and waited in line for our turn to enter Paisley Park. While waiting, we were instructed that photos were not allowed and you can be banned for life from ever visiting again. One woman tried to sneak photos but the staff made her erase photos and any photos her boyfriend may have been attached to on social media. Our phones were sealed in neoprene cases that can only be opened by the staff. With the VIP tour, you can purchase a flash drive which can also be a great souvenir. It’s purple and silver. You can bring your own to take photos near Prince’s purple piano later during the tour.
Upon entering, you meet the mural with Prince’s eyes above the entrance. The upstairs is off limits to the public. The elevator in which he died is blocked off by a wall. It would have been inappropriate to have fans gawk over it. A white cage containing Prince’s doves is in view as you look up to the second level. Prince’s ashes are in a small box inside a miniature Paisley Park display in the center of the floor. Many people cried or tears flowed. The estate provided tissue for anyone that may have needed it. It was difficult looking at the ashes. His gold and platinum records are on some of the walls as well as murals of Prince and other musical acts.
His kitchen is located on the main floor too. It is set up like a small restaurant with two or three booths. We were told that Prince hung out in the kitchen on the sofa watching TV between sets. Many of the rooms are decorated very colorfully but tastefully done. Prince wouldn’t have it any other way. We visited rooms with his stage costumes. Although, he had a small frame, Prince was one sharp dresser and extremely attractive. Was it Jamie Foxx that stated he was gay for five minutes after looking in Prince’s eyes? We were told that he had a personal clothes designer.
Several of the rooms played videos from concerts, interviews, and movies starring His Purple Highness. Our tour guide led us into his office. We were told that it was left the way that Prince had left it. It included his unpacked suitcase against a wall from recent travel, sketches on his table, and his cat’s cage. Someone asked about the cat and was told that family members are taking care of the cat. Prince’s sister, Tyka, walked around speaking to the guests. She was the perfect hostess by allowing us to enter her brother’s world.
Security is tight! I peeked around a corner from one of the studios and I could hear security describing me (I was wearing a gold jacket) over their radios. It should have been roped off! I didn’t know I couldn’t peek in it. Again, when I went to the bathroom, I heard security describe me as I stepped away from my tour group. The various studios are definitely topnotch!
Every hallway has photos of Prince or his many gold and platinum records. Someone asked if the records could be played. The guide told us that the records are usually old records that may not have sold from another artist. The records cannot be put on a turntable and don’t work. Bummer! One hallway of photos begins with Prince’s musical journey to the present. The photos are fabulous because he was one good-looking man.
The purple room is painted with glow in the dark paint and simulates purple rain drops or sparkling stars. In the Purple Rain Room, one side contains mirrors in which Prince practiced his dance moves. Our guide told us that the motorcycle from the movie, Purple Rain, and costumes were added into the room as well as Prince’s Academy Award. The piano in this room has marks from Prince dancing on top of it! The movie screen rotates scenes from the movie. It’s an amazing experience being in Paisley Park!
This is where your purple flash drive will come into play. Dernise and I played a game of ping pong on the table in one of the studios while we waited to take our photos behind the purple piano. Our tour guide told us that Prince played the game between studio breaks. YouTube Jimmy Fallon as he describes being beat badly by Prince playing ping pong. Prince's handwriting is on the piano. This was one of the best parts of the tour!
We also visited the NPG Club in which Prince had impromptu concerts for friends and fans. If you received a text, you were one of the fortunate ones to see him perform live in Paisley Park. This was the only place in which we were allowed to sit on the furniture. The stage is very intimate with sofas on each side. It’s lit with candles and dim lamps.
After we left the NPG Club, it was the end of our tour. We exited into a big tent that contained souvenirs (t-shirts, posters, tambourines, key chains, bags, necklaces, etc.) for purchasing. Tables and chairs were set up for our convenience. We had also purchased tickets in advance for meals created by Prince’s personal chef, Ray Roberts, that featured his favorite dishes. It was a vegetarian dish but extremely good. I missed out on the chocolate cake because the kitchen ran out.
It was sad leaving the estate but it was a wonderful feeling being able to knock the visit off of our Bucket Lists. However, we quickly recovered because we drove around and found every mural related to Prince in the area. It was a great trip.
As we returned to the bus, I took one final photo of Paisley Park as we drove off. I felt grateful to be able to visit and regretful that Prince wasn't there. However, I felt he is in a peaceful place. I will return to Paisley Park when the round building on the side of the estate becomes a restaurant. I really hope the zoning issues are eradicated quickly to allow more fans to visit the museum. We met people from Australia, France, and other places that traveled to attend the concert and visit Paisley Park.
The finale for our Prince Road Trip was to hit thrift stores. I can’t go anywhere without going to one and I found great deals!
You should add Paisley Park to your planned vacations or Bucket List. You will not regret it!
Tell me your thoughts! Leave a comment.
UPDATE: Paisley Park is now officially a permanent museum! Tours start again!
L. McGregor - President and Founder of Little Pampu and CB, Inc. Creator of Little Pampu and the Chocolate Bunnies.