Local Current Blog

The Current on Prince: From First Avenue to Paisley Park and beyond

A 2013 sketch, of Prince performing at Paisley Park, by Andrea Swensson

“Isn’t the sky beautiful tonight?” That’s how Prince greeted The Current’s program director Jim McGuinn, who reported on his summer 2010 visit to Paisley Park in one of the first Prince stories ever published on The Current’s website.

The Current was launched in 2005, and Prince became a supporter of the station. He showed that support by attending The Current’s fifth birthday party at First Avenue in 2010, and inviting Jim out to Chanhassen for the meeting described in that story.

Our contact with Prince became more frequent after that, and there was also more Prince news to cover — a lot more Prince news. He was making Minnesota his primary base once again, and he reactivated Paisley Park as a recording studio and concert venue.

At the same time, our team was growing. Andrea Swensson joined The Current in 2011, launching the Local Current blog and dramatically expanding our online reporting; I came on board in 2013, and both Andrea and I have written many Prince stories, along with the rest of The Current’s staff — including newly-hired writer Cecilia Johnson and our college contributors. Our colleagues at MPR News have also reported extensively on Prince, and we’ve shared some of their coverage with our audience as well.

Today, Prince Day, we’re looking back at the matchless music and wonderful memories Prince has given us — as well as the sad times we’ve experienced since Prince’s death. Below are links to much of The Current’s Prince coverage since 2010, divided into six sections: remembering and honoring Prince; reports from Paisley Park; concert reviews; inside the music; features, and news reporting.

Thanks to Lillian Speakman for helping to compile this guide. We hope these stories mean as much to you as they have to us.

Remembering and honoring Prince


Music legend Prince dies at age 57 (Jay Gabler, 4/21/16)

“This utopian artist proved that music truly can break barriers — if u want it 2.”

Prince fans gather for Minneapolis tribute concert outside First Ave (Cecilia Johnson, 4/21/16)

People came from Minnesota and beyond to pay tribute at the House Prince Built.

Prince Remembered: A podcast about his music, life and legacy (various sources, 4/22/16 and onward)

A podcast featuring reminisces from those who knew Prince best.

Friday Five: Prince tributes from far and wide (Cecilia Johnson, 4/22/16)

A compilation of tributes in honor of Prince from both local and distant artists.

First Avenue hosts all-night Prince party, plans more celebrations (Cecilia Johnson, 4/22/16)

The iconic venue, First Avenue, which appeared in Prince’s film, Purple Rain, hosted an all-night dance party the night of the news of Prince’s death to help fans celebrate and mourn the music legend.

Prince faithful party through the night at First Avenue (Cecilia Johnson, 4/22/16)

Cecilia Johnson and photographer Emmet Kowler stayed up late to join the Mainroom revelry.

Good night, sweet Prince (Andrea Swensson, 4/23/16)

Andrea Swensson’s heartfelt tribute to the beloved music legend.

New Prince mural in Uptown: “A present to Minneapolis”’ (Jay Gabler, 4/23/16)

Bloomington-based artist Rock “Cyfi” Martinez painted a new Prince mural in Uptown as “a nice present to the city of Minneapolis.”

Prince and Beyoncé: Mavericks who matter (Jay Gabler, 4/24/16)

When Beyoncé released Lemonade (as planned) on April 23, Jay reflected on the values — musical and otherwise — that she and Prince shared.

All purple everything: Local restaurants create Prince-inspired treats (Cecilia Johnson, 4/24/16)

Not only are artists, venues and celebrities paying tribute to Prince, but local restaurants are also honoring our late hometown hero.

Watch: Minneapolis City Hall bell tower plays Prince tribute (Jay Gabler, 4/24/16)

Minneapolis City Hall paid tribute to Prince by playing his hits on the bell tower. Although the bell tower has a limited range notes, player Tony Hill did his best to perform songs such as “Kiss” and “1999” for the eager fans below.

Watch Minnesota musicians perform Prince hits outside First Avenue (Cecilia Johnson, 4/25/16)

Video from the tribute concert held on April 21 outside First Avenue.

Sheila E. says Paisley Park museum, Minneapolis tribute concert planned (Jay Gabler, 4/25/16)

Longtime collaborator and friend of Prince, Sheila E. says there are planes in the works for a Minneapolis tribute concert to the Purple One, for which she is the musical director. There are also plans to turn Paisley Park into a museum.

Minnesota Legislature honors Prince (Jay Gabler, 4/25/16)

The Minnesota Senate paid tribute to Prince with a special resolution in his honor. There is also legislation being proposed that would declare purple to be Minnesota’s state color.

Share your thoughts and memories of Prince (4/28/16)

The Current asks listeners to share their own personal memories of the multifaceted musician.

That time Prince almost played with GAYNGS at First Avenue (Andrea Swensson, 4/28/16)

P.O.S remembers GAYNGS’ Last Prom on Earth, when Prince showed up backstage and strapped on a guitar.

Documentary – Purple Reign: the life, music and legacy of Prince (4/29/16)

An audio documentary, hosted by Jill Riley, discussing the life and music of Prince.

First Avenue’s overnight dance parties epitomized the spirit of Prince (Bobby Kahn, 5/2/16)

A participant’s first-hand account of First Avenue’s all-night dance parties in remembrance and celebration of the late Prince.

Some of our favorite Prince tributes (5/3/16)

A compilation of The Current staff’s favorite tributes to the late musician.

Finding closure at a midnight screening of Purple Rain (Cecilia Johnson, 5/3/16)

Cecilia Johnson recounts the first time she saw Purple Rain and how a midnight screening of the film helped her find the closure she needed.

Paul McCartney pays tribute to Prince at Minneapolis show (Jay Gabler, 5/5/16)

While performing at Target Center in Minneapolis, Paul McCartney paid tribute to the late hometown hero, Prince. Not only did he dedicate his performance to the Purple One, but McCartney also covered a portion of “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Art-A-Whirl exhibit to honor Prince (Lillian Speakman, 5/20/16)

One of the studios participating in this year’s Art-A-Whirl festivities paid special homage the late Prince with their 57Princes exhibit, which featured a wall-length mural consisting of 57 portraits of Prince.

Minnesota galleries to host Prince tribute art shows (Jay Gabler, 5/24/16)

Due to the success of the Prince tribute exhibit at this year’s Art-A-Whirl, another exhibit at Gamut Gallery will be on display starting in late June. Prince-themed art shows are also being planned by two other Minnesota venues as well.

St. Paul Saints play Purple Game to remember Prince (AP, 5/30/16)

The St. Paul Saints paid their own special tribute to Prince at their game, which they won against the Kansas City T-Bones. The tribute included purple uniforms, red corvettes and fireworks complemented by Prince tunes.

The Jayhawks perform in the Current studio (5/31/16)

While at the Current for their in-studio performance, Minneapolis-based band The Jayhawks stopped for a chat with Andrea Swensson about a host of topics, including Prince memories.

Governor Dayton declares June 7 to be Prince Day in Minneapolis (Jay Gabler, 6/6/16)

In the proclamation, Gov. Dayton encourages Minnesotans to wear purple on Tuesday in Prince’s honor.

Dave Chapelle and friends pay tribute to Prince at Minneapolis Juke Joint (Leah Garaas, 6/7/16)

“I can’t see my friend again, but I can see his spirit in this city,” said Chappelle. “It’s now the birthday of Minneapolis’s favorite son.”

Reports from Paisley Park

Prince Paisley Park

The tale of a visit to Paisley Park (Jim McGuinn, 7/22/10)

“‘Isn’t the sky beautiful tonight?’ asked Prince as he welcomed me warmly into his Paisley Park studio complex.”

Prince throws an unforgettable Paisley party, hints at more next weekend (Andrea Swensson, 10/6/13)

“As with the shows at the Dakota, Prince proved to be an engaging and entertaining banterer throughout the night, cracking jokes and telling stories in funny little voices and generally doing everything he could to rile up the crowd.”

Prince serves pancakes, performs with 3rdEyeGirl at Paisley pajama party (Walt Dizzo, 10/19/13)

Fans enjoyed not only a pajama party, but performances by Dani Curiel as well as Prince and 3rdEyeGirl. Not only this, but lucky attendees were also served Paisley Park pancakes.

Paisley Park: My first visit to Minnesota’s music mecca, courtesy of 3RDEYEGIRL (Jay Gabler, 7/20/14)

“The interior of Paisley Park somehow manages to both defy expectations and precisely meet them. I’ll put it this way: you know you’re at Prince’s place.”

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL share new music at late-night Paisley Park rendezvous (Andrea Swensson, 7/26/14)

Andrea writes about her most extensive conversation with Prince.

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL play surprise Paisley Park show on the eve of “Purple Rain” 30th anniversary (Jay Gabler, 7/27/14)

In his own unique fashion, Prince humbly celebrated the 30the anniversary of his movie “Purple Rain” by inviting fans to come spend a night of music, dancing and fun.

FKA twigs mesmerizes the audience, warms up to Prince at Paisley Park (Andrea Swensson, 11/17/14)

“Prince was sure to jump to his feet at the end of the set and shake each of FKA twigs’ musicians’ hands as they filed off stage.”

Alabama Shakes give Paisley Park all they’ve got (Andrea Swensson, 6/2/15)

“The band locked together, the solo lifted everyone higher and higher, and Prince opened his mouth as if he was unleashing the unholiest of roars. It was perfect. It was spiritual.”

Live from Paisley Park, it’s Prince! (on speakerphone) (Andrea Swensson, 9/6/15)

“Free yourself!” said Prince, answering the phone.

Prince serenades Madonna at late-night Paisley Park gig (Andrea Swensson, 10/9/15)

Yes, this actually happened.

Prince throws WNBA championship party for Minnesota Lynx at Paisley Park (Jay Gabler, 10/15/15)

Minnesota’s WNBA team were delighted to celebrate their championship with a Paisley Park dance party.

Prince rolls out Paisley Park’s purple carpet for Judith Hill’s Back in Time album release (Cecilia Johnson, 10/25/15)

In celebration of Judith Hill’s new album, which Prince helped release, a party was held in her honor at Paisley Park.

Prince announces solo European tour at Paisley Park pajama party (Jay Gabler, 11/9/15)

Once again, Prince opened the doors to Paisley Park and invited his fans to enjoy a two day, pajama party with him. During the weekend fun, Prince also announced his new solo tour, which would be featuring just him and a piano.

With just a piano and a microphone, Prince embraces a new kind of freedom (Andrea Swensson, 1/22/16)

Andrea Swensson recounts the special “Piano and Microphone” show Prince performed at Paisley Park. What makes this particular show so unique is this the first time that Prince has performed unaccompanied.

Larry Graham rocks Paisley Park with old-school funk (Youa Vang, 1/23/16)

“When people say you feel music in your heart and soul, and not the mind, they must have been talking about Larry Graham.”

Prince leads a singalong – and almost a DJ battle – at Paisley Park dance party (Cecilia Johnson, 1/24/16)

Another eccentric Paisley Park party, featuring Prince concert footage, movies and the DJ stylings of none-other than the Purple One himself.

Morris Day — and Judith Hill — remind Paisley Park what Time it is (Jay Gabler, 1/30/16)

“We go too far back with Prince,” mused Morris Day from onstage. “Too many memories.” Thanking his host, he concluded, “We love you, Prince.”

Concert reviews

Prince Drawing

Prince opens his run of Dakota shows with a funky instrumental jam (Jade, 1/17/13)

Prince’s second night at the Dakota Jazz club heavy on jokes, hits (Andrea Swensson, 1/18/13)

Prince ends his run at the Dakota with smoky, standing-room-only shows (Andrea Swensson, 1/19/13)

Prince channels James Brown at marathon SXSW show (Jim McGuinn, 3/19/13)

Prince brings out Bobby Z, thanks hometown fans at uneven Myth show (Erik Thompson, 5/27/13)

A sneak peek into the first night of Prince’s secret London shows (Alex Christensen, 2/5/14)


Apollonia Purple Rain

Is it a sign of the times that artists are covering Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times”? (Andrea Swensson, 10/3/12)

After two prominent musical acts covered Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times” within 24 hours of each other, Andrea Swensson asked, why this particular song — and why now?

Prince’s new bandmates talk to the Current and release ‘Screwdriver’ (Andrea Swensson, 1/13/13)

Prince’s new band trio stopped by the Current to talk about how they became affiliated with the Purple One and as an extra bonus, release their new song, “Screwdriver.”

Este Haim opens up about her Prince obsession (Jay Gabler, 1/11/14)

While in studio, both Este and Alana Haim mentioned their love for Prince. However, Este went a bit further and admitted her passion for Prince might be more accurately described as an obsession.

When the Minneapolis Sound hit Algeria: What Paisley Park music has meant to me (Ilias, 3/6/14)

An essay by musician Ilias about the first time he heard Prince, and the impact his music has had on Ilias throughout his life and work.

Artist of the Month: Prince (Jay Gabler, 7/1/14)

A retrospective of the artist’s unparalleled career.

Prince’s Purple Rain turns 30: Looking back at the iconic Minneapolis film (Andrea Swensson, 7/25/14)

An audio documentary featuring interviews with Apollonia, Bobby Z, and writer Jon Bream.

Then and Now: Scenes from Purple Rain (Andrea Swensson, 7/28/14)

We teamed up with photographer Steven Cohen to revisit some of the famous landmarks seen in the film.

1984 was pop’s greatest year, says Rolling Stone–and Prince was the best thing about it (Jay Gabler, 10/24/14)

According to a feature by Rolling Stone, 1984 was “the year that pop stood tallest.” The article mentions several artists who were looming large that year, including Madonna and Michael Jackson, but it was Prince who stood tallest.

Prince’s band 3RDEYEGIRL on Paisley Park: “It’s like a musician’s wonderland” (Andrea Swensson, 11/29/14)

Andrea catches up with Hannah Ford Welton, Donna Grantis, and Ida Nielsen.

Strings are in: Minnesota ensemble STRINGenius play proudly with Prince (Jay Gabler, 10/24/15)

STRINGenius is a collaboration among local string musicians. Among the many artists they have worked with is none other than Prince.

Purple Rain – As retold in a language without a word for purple (NPR, 11/28/15)

Three decades after it originally premiered, Prince’s Purple Rain has been remade in Niger. The film has been translated into Tamajeq, a language which has no word for purple.

Prince takes best passport photo ever (Jay Gabler, 2/17/16)

No contest.

16 things you should know about Prince (MPR News, 4/21/16)

A starter guide from MPR News.

When artists flocked to Chanhassen: Paisley Park’s days as recording and business hub (Cecilia Johnson, 5/5/16)

Since its opening in 1987, Paisley Park has been a versatile space: a recording and business hub.

New Power Generation: The story of Prince’s ‘90s band (Keith Harris, 6/3/16)

The New Power Generation were one of Prince’s hand-picked bands of Minneapolis musicians. This feature looks at the contributions of the NPG during one of the more creative and dynamic periods of Prince’s career.

Inside the music

Prince HitnRun Album Covers

Prince debuts new single “RNR Affair” (Andrea Swensson, 9/17/12)

Just after appearing on the same View episode that also featured Jesse Ventura, Prince dropped a new single.

Prince brings “RNR Affair” to life on Jimmy Kimmel Live (Andrea Swensson, 10/24/12)

On late-night TV, Prince never disappointed.

Prince’s 1999 turns 30 (Peter Valelly, 10/26/12)

On October 27 of 2012, Prince’s 1999 turned 30. To celebrate, The Current compiled a list of seven interesting facts that you may not have known about the iconic album.

Prince releases smooth R&B jam “Breakfast Can Wait” (Andrea Swensson, 2/5/13)

Complete with, eventually, Dave Chapelle artwork.

Prince and 3rdEyeGirl release new single “Live Out Loud” (Andrea Swensson, 2/22/13)

Prince rocked out with his fiery new bandmates.

Is Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” remake legit? (Jim McGuinn, 4/3/13)

Why did Prince reimagine one of his best-known jams?

Prince and Zooey Deschanel release “New Girl” duet (Jay Gabler, 3/16/14)

Prince later re-released “FALLINLOVE2NITE” as a solo number.

“The Breakdown”: Prince releases first single under new Warner Bros. deal (KT Lindemann, 4/21/14)

Prince and Warner Bros.: together again? It was strange but true.

The new Prince albums ART OFFICIAL AGE and PLECTRUMELECTRUM: A track-by-track guide (Jay Gabler, 9/30/14)

Jay Gabler shares the stories behind the songs on Prince’s simultaneously released albums.

Watch Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL play eight-minute jam on Saturday Night Live (Jay Gabler, 11/2/14)

The historic performance marked the first time an artist was allowed one long musical segment rather than two short ones.

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL go to “MARZ” in new video (Jay Gabler, 1/19/15)

A trippy live performance, shot at Paisley Park.

Prince reveals “Baltimore” lyrics, announces “Dance Rally 4 Peace” at Paisley Park tonight (Jay Gabler, 5/2/15)

Prince has recorded a song dedicated “to all the people of the city of Baltimore” and announced that Paisley Park will play host to a “Dance Rally 4 Peace.”

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL release new song “HARDROCKLOVER” (Jay Gabler, 7/6/15)

A new track, “HARDROCKLOVER,” released by Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL, proves to have detail-rich lyrics — yet a meaning that is open to interpretation.

Prince’s new “Baltimore” video spotlights Black Lives Matter movement (Jay Gabler, 7/22/15)

Prince used music and video to raise awareness of violence against black communities.

Prince releases new song, “Stare,” exclusively on Spotify (Jay Gabler, 7/30/15)

Despite having recently removed all his music from the streaming service, Spotify, Prince released a new song, “Stare,” that is only available on Spotify.

Pitchfork names “Purple Rain” the best song of the 1980s (Jay Gabler, 8/24/15)

“It’s staggering to comprehend that the version of ‘Purple Rain’ beloved by lovers and sensualists around the world was recorded live in the moment, on stage at a Minneapolis benefit concert in the summer of 1983.”

Five things you learn about Prince in the Pitchfork Review’s Dirty Mind story (Sage Larson, 11/2/15)

Revelations about one of Prince’s most important albums.

The story behind Prince’s new album HITNRUN (Jay Gabler, 11/7/15)

HITNRUNwas released in the fall of 2015 and was Prince’s 38th studio album. Here is the story behind the making of the “super experimental” album.

From For You to HITNRUN phase two: Where to access Prince’s released music (Cecilia Johnson, 6/3/16)

A table of Prince albums, showing where they can be found.

News reporting

Prince selfie

Prince rumors abound in advance of Revolution reunion gig (Andrea Swensson, 1/16/12)

In the end, the gig went great — but Prince did not make an appearance.

Prince Tweets 2 U… 4 Real? (Brett Baldwin, 8/14/13)

Once he was on Twitter, Prince used the network to communicate with fans.

Prince becomes a comic-book hero (Jay Gabler, 12/3/13)

Not for the first time, not for the last.

Prince sues 22 fans for $1 million each for sharing bootleg recordings (Jay Gabler, 1/27/14)

The lawsuit was later dropped.

Prince makes up with Warner Bros., promises new music (Jay Gabler, 4/18/14)

The deal gave Prince control of his classic masters.

Prince’s Spanish luxury villa can be yours for just eight million dollars (Jay Gabler, 4/28/14)

Complete with irrigation system.

Prince’s co-star Apollonia to return to Minnesota for the first time since Purple Rain (Ellie Fuqua, 5/2/14)

It was an emotional return for Prince’s Purple Rain costar.

Sorry, Prince did not actually inspire Disney’s “Let It Go” (Jay Gabler, 5/2/14)

Mythbusting a hoax article that was widely circulated — including via Prince’s own Twitter account.

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL suddenly delete Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts (Jay Gabler, 11/25/14)

Prince’s love-hate relationship with social media took a new turn.

Prince and Paul McCartney have a wild weekend in New York City (Jay Gabler, 2/17/15)

Prince played a two-hour show celebrating the anniversary of Nike’s Jordan sneakers.

Sorry, Bob: Billboard names Prince Minnesota’s most iconic star (Sadie Bell, 7/22/15)

In their “50 Top Stars of the 50 States,” Billboard named Prince the most iconic star from Minnesota. The decision was partially based on the obvious close ties Prince had with his home state.

Prince’s Purple Rain house for sale in Minneapolis (Jay Gabler, 7/26/15)

The house where exterior shots from Purple Rain were filmed was put up for sale.

Prince postpones UK ticket sales, concerned about ticket resellers (Jay Gabler, 11/13/15)

Like many artists, Prince was concerned about the potential for both legal and illegal ticket reselling.

Auction of Prince items included unreleased recordings, guitar, wedding china, handcuffs and much more (Jay Gabler, 3/10/16)

Prince’s former wife sold some of her possessions via auction.

Prince to write memoir titled The Beautiful Ones (Jay Gabler, 3/19/16)

The memoir was due to be published next year.

Publicist: Prince cremated, celebrated in private ceremony (AP, 4/23/16)

We learned about an emotional Paisley Park gathering.

What will happen to Prince’s unreleased recordings? (MPR News, 4/25/16)

The artist’s vault is legendary.

The Revolution, in wake of Prince’s death, announce reunion (4/26/16)

One of Prince’s most well-known bands, the Revolution, have announced a reunion in response to the news of Prince’s death. The Revolution played with Prince on both the album and movie Purple Rain.

Court document: Prince did not leave a will, has six potential heirs (Jay Gabler, 4/26/16)

Details slowly emerged, as the world grieved.

The fate of Prince’s memoir is uncertain (Tracy Mumford, 4/28/16)

A report from The Thread.

Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson clarifies August funeral plans, says family are unified (Jay Gabler, 5/13/16)

“We appreciate the public’s patience and have been comforted by your outpouring of love, support and condolences. We look forward to sharing with the world this celebration of, and farewell to, our Prince.”

Prince died of fentanyl overdose, says medical examiner (Jay Gabler, 6/2/16)

With the release of an autopsy report, the cause of Prince’s death was officially verified.