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Rare Prince recording and press kit acquired by Minnesota Historical Society

Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has added a press kit from 1977, Prince’s earliest days as a recording artist, to the collection. According to a press release, the press kit, which includes a demo reel recorded here in Minneapolis, was donated by Prince’s first manager, Owen Husney.

Let’s rewind time for a moment…

In the spring and summer of 1976, Prince was recording in a small 1,500-square-foot music studio, known as Moon Sound at the time, in the Nokomis neighborhood. A then-unknown musician named Prince was in the midst of recording his first demo reel, with hopes to cut a record deal.

Husney, Prince’s manager at the time, helped the artist by creating the press kit to present to potential record companies. Husney believed that Prince’s music alone would sell the artist, despite the kit’s simplicity.

“We wanted people to understand that A) Prince was a serious artist and B) our support for his talent and genius,” Husney said in the press release. “Everything had to be first class.” The press kit was hand-delivered to several record labels in California and eventually Prince was signed to Warner Bros.

The press kit contained a demo reel with three songs that Prince recorded, including a song that was never released. “We’ll Make it Through the Storm,” was originally recorded at Moon Sound with Prince on lead vocals, however was never formally released. It was eventually re-recorded and released by Sue Ann Carwell on lead vocals in 1981 as “Make it Through the Storm.” The other two songs on the archived demo reel, “Soft and Wet” and “Baby,” would eventually be included on Prince’s first album release, For You.

This press kit, along with some marketing materials used by Warner Bros. that helped introduce Prince to other media and merchandise outlets at that time, will join several other artifacts that have already been obtained by the MNHS including a paper ticket from Prince’s first show at the Capri theater (1979), and handwritten lyrics to the unreleased song, “I Hope We Work It Out” (1977).

Husney was adamant the items go to the MNHS and that the items be kept in his native Minnesota, according to the press release. “They will be preserved for all Minnesota residents and visitors to see a portrait of a young genius.” These items will ultimately be available through the MNHS’s digitized program for online viewing.

Some Prince-related items will undoubtedly be included in the Minnesota History Center’s upcoming First Avenue exhibit.

Marla Khan-Schwartz is a writer who is mostly inspired while eating dessert.