The word pilgrimage is overused for visits to celebrity homes, but crowds at Paisley Park today for the fifth anniversary of Prince’s death will be marking the legacy of a genuine god of music.
Dearly beloved, they’re gathered today to get through this thing called life, and they’ll hopefully do it with enough flamboyance to do him proud. Five years on from his death by an accidental Fentanyl overdose at his iconic Paisley Park home in Minneapolis, Prince Rogers Nelson’s light hasn’t dimmed.
There has been a steady stream of archive releases from his legendary Vault. The latest is Welcome 2 America, a fully-realised album recorded in 2010 that’s being released in July. And with themes such as political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice, the album couldn’t be more timely.
While fans wait for this ‘new’ record, they’ll be flocking to Paisley Park today in memory of one of the great icons. Prince’s home and creative sanctuary is open to the public for reflection, music, and to pay respects as his ashes go on display. It’s a free, ticketed event, and those of us at the other side of the world can join in online.
But remember that Prince never really did sombre, and when he did, it was with a knowing wink. If you’re remembering the Purple One today, make sure you dip into the OTT extravagance of one of the true icons. As we tip our Raspberry Beret, here we go through 10 of Prince’s most godlike, coolest talents.
Playing 27 musical instruments on his debut album
On 1978s For You, he’s credited as doing everything — and that involved playing 27 instruments and of course “all vocals”. Prince is a legendary virtuoso, from shredding solos on the guitar to his skill on keys and electronics, and of course the vocal range.
His gifts to other artists
Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2U; The Bangles’ Manic Monday; Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You; Stevie Nicks’s Stand Back. Just a few of the songs Prince wrote and gave away, only for them to become iconic, career-defining moments for the lucky artists. He even played guitar on Madonna’s Like a Prayer.
His absurd work ethic
Prince released 39 albums, over 50 music videos, over 100 singles, and released up to 1,000 songs in his career, and wrote and recorded at least one song a day. But even taking into account that staggering work ethic, his Paisley Park Vault still has “thousands and thousands” of professionally recorded tracks, according to his estate. It’s said his estate could release a new album every year for the next century.
Having an official Pantone purple colour
In 2017, the universal colour matching standard Pantone created a new shade to honour Prince. Of course it was a royal purple, based on the colour of a Yamaha piano he was about to take on tour. The colour is known as Love Symbol #2, which brings us to…
Ditching his name and becoming a symbol
Prince had more aliases than an over-zealous 90s rapper. He was known as Alexander Nevermind, Christopher Tracy, The Kid, The Purple Purv, The Minneapolis Midget and finally The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. In the middle of a contractual row with Warner Bros in 1993, he changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol — known as the ‘Love Symbol’.
Being a chilled negotiator
When Prince cancelled his Croke Park gig in 2008 with a few weeks’ notice, MCD’s Dennis Desmond was understandably fuming. He sued Prince in 2010 and it came out in the court reports that during heightened negotiations around the impending Croker cancellation, he had passed on a message to Desmond: “Tell the can to chill, I’ll figure it out.
Ruling the entertainment world in 1984
On July 27, 1984, Prince topped the US film box office and both the Billboard album and singles charts, with the Purple Rain movie, the original soundtrack and the single When Doves Cry. This is what it sounds like… when Prince is on top of his game.
21-night stand in London
In 2007, Prince sold out 21 nights at London’s O2 Arena. It’s gone down as one of the most transcendent live stints, with Prince playing ‘in the round’ in the middle of the floor on a giant Love Symbol stage, and a different setlist every night, after making his band learn over 200 songs.
Legendary live moments
Prince created nothing short of magic when he came on stage. At his last ever show in Ireland, in Malahide in 2011, he started with a medley of songs that would be an encore for anyone else, then fell back laughing at his “sooooo many hits”. At one point, it rained for a minute, just at the end of Purple Rain, amid a whirlwind of purple confetti.
Parental advisory sticker
Purple Rain was apparently the spur for the infamous Parental Advisory sticker on albums, after Tipper Gore (then Senator Al Gore’s wife) bought the album for their 111-year-old daughter and was appalled by the explicit language on the song Darlin Nikki.