MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we approach Friday’s anniversary of Prince’s death, we reflect on the life and legacy of “The Purple One.”
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis in 1958. The music icon could have lived anywhere, but chose to stay in Minnesota.
His music and philanthropy transcended generations here and abroad.
Prince mesmerized audiences on stage and on the big screen. The homegrown master musician was an explosive performer — and it showed in the outfit he wore during Purple Rain, according to Ann Frisina, textiles curator at the Minnesota Historical Society.
“Prince went out on stage and jumped around and danced in this,” Frisina said. “It was designed so that it could be worn hard, so there are special stretch panels in the pant so that he could go down to a full split and come back up.”
Prince donated the iconic costume to MHS in 1987, and fans can now see it on display. The threads tell a story of the man beyond persona.
“It tells us that he was really particular about how he looked. That it wasn’t just his music that he was selling,” Frisina said.
Prince shared his light with artists he mentored and encouraged.
“Prince is a big reason why we’re here,” said Mint Condition’s Rick Kinchen.
Minnesota’s Mint Condition credit “His Royal Badness” with the band’s success.
“You concentrate on the energy that he left,” said Mint Condition’s Stokely Williams. “A person never really dies … if you keep their spirit alive. He’s created so much, man, it’s like he lives through us.”
Shelby J sang with Prince for a decade, and felt the depth of his generosity.
“He pushes you out of your comfort zone,” Shelby J said. “He was my mentor, my friend, but someone who made me believe in myself more than I believed in myself.”
The venues Prince played will forever be tied to the “Prince of Funk,” as he immersed himself in the local scene. First Avenue is a spot where the singer came to life; where he grew as a musician. It’s a place where people still celebrate his talent.
He would show up at the Dakota Jazz Club, sometimes slinking in the back without anyone noticing, as he did days before he died. Other times, he would get on stage and perform.
Prince would also turn up unannounced at Bunkers Music Bar and Grill, and Paisley Park in Chanhassen, where he famously lived for decades. It is now open for fans and devotees to tour.
The once-private home and studio is a museum where guests can walk through the 65,000-square-foot complex.
Prince gave quietly and without seeking attention. A note left at Paisley Park after his death said, “You gave anonymously and humbly to our town, to our schools — but we knew it was you behind all those large donations.”
Countless people benefited from Prince’s generosity; from victims of the I-35W bridge collapse to nonprofits that empower youth to schools.
A donation turned an old nursing home on Olson Memorial Highway into Harvest Prep and Seed Academy.
“Out of the blue one day, a check from Prince came for $200,000, and it was an absolute game changer,” said Karen Kelley Ariwoola, of the Harvest Network of Schools.
Chanhassen Elementary purchased a piano, along with art supplies after receiving a $30,000 check from Prince.
“In schools terms, quite a bit of money,” said Jon Kison, the administrative dean of Chanhassen Elementary School. “It just shows how big his heart really was.”
And the school continues to feel his support. Friends and fans donated guitars and art in memory of Prince.
“A community member passes like Prince, they’re moved so much that they give us gifts, and they give us time and talents. I think that’s really, really special,” Kison said.
Those who knew Prince best want his legacy of supporting and loving each other to live infinitely.
“He left us a road map to love and peace, and I think we can learn a lot from his music about how to love and care for each other,” Shelby J said.
Paisley Park is throwing a four-day celebration starting Thursday. Most of the “Celebration 2017” packages are sold out.
Gov. Mark Dayton declared Friday “Prince Day.” First Avenue will hold a late-night dance party that night, with events going through the weekend. Registration is required.
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