Local Current Blog

Peek inside early-1990s Paisley Park in two rare videos

Photo of the exterior of Paisley Park / Photo courtesy of Paisley Park NPG Records

Two recently surfaced videos offer a rare look inside Paisley Park circa the early 1990s. Michael Williams, then a VJ on the Canadian TV channel MuchMusic, visited the studio in 1992 — wearing a very 1992 sweater — to shoot an episode of his show Soul in the City. He knew he was at Prince’s place, but he wasn’t sure what the city was called; Ingrid Chavez had to inform him that he was in chilly Chanhassen.

The 35-minute video offers a brief glimpse into the venue back when it was still buzzing with activity, artists coming and going to work on various projects. Williams runs into Eric Leeds outside the front door, and then producer Michael Koppelman strolls out of the atrium kitchen with a cup of coffee.

It’s also a view of Paisley Park before the extensive redecoration Prince was to undertake half a decade later: the walls are still white. Instead of the career timeline Prince later installed, the hallway is decorated with blueprints and photos from Paisley’s construction. For what it’s worth, we additionally notice that Paisley Park was a Pepsi, not a Coke, establishment.

Williams points out a framed picture of the Muppet Babies; he and Chavez don’t know what to make of it, but it’s a souvenir from when Muppet Babies Live! took over Paisley’s soundstage for rehearsals in 1988, as seen in this video advertising the studios for rental around the same time. (Prince himself had to play in the parking lot while the Muppets rehearsed, an early indication that renting the venue wouldn’t be without consequences for its owner.) A bonus in this ad: check out Minnesota pop stars the Jets filming “Cross My Broken Heart,” the first music video ever shot at Paisley.

Upstairs, Williams and Chavez say hi to Prince’s doves and visit the busy wardrobe department. In the Studio B control room, Ben Cidron of the label Go Jazz tells Williams that MuchMusic is “actually hipper than MTV.” The two admire the Graffiti Bridge art in Studio B, and Chavez talks about her role in the film. They even walk up to the door of the Vault, where Chavez explains “people who filmed Prince accidentally” are kept. Fortunately for Williams, the Purple Yoda himself is nowhere to be seen.