By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Prince leaves behind not only a musical legacy, but also a string of Minnesota artists he supported.

Prince’s star on the famous First Avenue exterior is a nod to his importance to the Minnesota music scene. Part of his legacy is not just his music, but the music careers he supported along the way.

He was a musical influence to some of today’s biggest stars, but beyond Hollywood are stories of local acts he helped from early roots.

“He would frequently say, ‘You know I’m your biggest fan,'” Gary Hines said.

Hines has been with the group Sounds of Blackness for 45 years. He first met Prince at Bryant Junior High School in Minneapolis. They would later cross paths as up and coming musicians, and then Prince made it big.

“He never forgot about us, included us right away,” Hines said. “The Batman soundtrack — Jack Nicholson movie — the Love Sexy tour.”

Jim McGuinn is the programming director for the radio station The Current. Prince would often call the station, known for promoting local sound, to find talent to perform at Paisley Park.

“They knew what it meant to an artist to go in and play a show at Paisley Park, and they also wanted to share that experience,” McGuinn said.

Prince frequented First Avenue and the Dakota Jazz Club. The Northrup Box office director, Holly Radis-McCulskey, says Prince would use a code word to sneak in backstage at shows to meet up and coming artists.

“He wanted to make sure it happened that way, and that he was respectful to the artist — that he came to hear them, too,” she said.

Fans will remember his music. To those he helped along the way, he was something much more.

“Really his support and friendship and brotherhood overall,” Hines said.

Kate Raddatz