Local Current Blog

Five years without Prince: A timeline

Nate Ryan/MPR

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Prince’s tragic death, which still feels so fresh and painful for his millions of “fams” around the world. It’s been an eventful five years, though, with a trove of releases from the Vault, the opening of Paisley Park as a museum, countless tribute performances, and more. Here’s a walk through the whirlwind that has been the past five years.


April 15: After a concerning emergency landing while en route home from a concert in Atlanta, Prince returns to Paisley Park and tweets the title of his song “Controversy,” seemingly downplaying concerns about his health.

April 16: Prince makes a public appearance at Paisley Park, throwing a dance party and telling attendees to “wait a few days before you waste any prayers.” It being Record Store Day, he also makes a stop at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.

April 21: First responders are summoned to Paisley Park, and the music world’s worst fears are confirmed: Prince has died, in what is later found to be an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.

Tributes to his music and his legacy begin immediately, with fans leaving mementos at Paisley Park’s fence while First Avenue and partners including The Current organize a spontaneous concert and memorial dance party in downtown Minneapolis. Lizzo, a Prince collaborator who’s recently relocated to Los Angeles, flies back to sing “The Beautiful Ones.”

In the Mainroom, the dance party continues overnight: the first of three that First Avenue hosts, invoking a city statute passed to permit prospective Prince performances to continue past 2 a.m. “Today,” says President Barack Obama, “the world lost a creative icon.”

April 22: Tributes continue to pour in, including the Hamilton cast dancing onstage to “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Carver County officials confirm that they have released Prince’s remains to his family, and that an ongoing investigation will likely take weeks.

April 23: In the first of many new Prince murals to appear, Rock “Cyfi” Martinez unveils a dove-themed piece on the exterior wall of Sencha Tea in Uptown Minneapolis. “I thought this would be a nice present to Minneapolis and Uptown to help with grieving,” he says. “Minneapolis is hurting, the world is hurting. We’re losing a legend of art and music.”

April 24: On a rainy Sunday, the Minneapolis City Hall bell tower plays songs including “Kiss,” “1999,” “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “When You Were Mine.” Several dozen onlookers stand by for the performance, although some of the songs are hard to make out given that the bell tower can play only 15 notes.

Eateries across the Twin Cities unveil Prince-themed menu items, ranging from a “Purple Rain” cocktail (Spoon and Stable) to purple doughnuts (Glam Doll). Elsewhere, Spike Lee throws a dance party; Bruce Springsteen covers “Purple Rain”; and Saturday Night Live dedicates its entire episode to Prince.

Appearing on Entertainment Tonight, Sheila E. breaks the news that Paisley Park will reopen as a museum, an early revelation later confirmed by members of Prince’s family. She also describes plans for an all-star tribute concert.

April 25: Both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature pay tribute to Prince. Among the highlights: Rep. Peggy Flanagan, who would go on to be Minnesota’s next lieutenant governor, singing “Purple Rain” on the House floor.

Prince’s albums soar up the Billboard charts, with The Very Best of Prince claiming the top spot and Purple Rain following at number two. “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” will soon re-enter the Top Ten in the Hot 100.

April 26: In a court filing, Prince’s sister Tyka officially confirms that to the family’s knowledge, Prince did not leave a will. While Minnesota state law is clear that the estate will ultimately pass to his surviving siblings, including half-siblings, the probate process will drag on until the present day.

In a video message, Prince’s ’80s band the Revolution announce plans to reunite. Members of Prince’s subsequent band, the New Power Generation, appear on a new tribute track called “Welcome 2 Minneapolis.”

Citing Prince’s support for the company, Mixed Blood Theatre announces that a fundraising gala scheduled to happen May 14 at Paisley Park would go on as scheduled.

April 28: Bruegger’s sells purple bagels to benefit the Minnesota Music Coalition; the tinted toastables quickly sell out.

April 30: President Obama hosts an International Jazz Day concert at the White House; at the event, Aretha Franklin sings “Purple Rain” in Prince’s memory.

May 4: Mourners arrive at First Avenue to find that overnight, an unknown party — later revealed to be the Minneapolis artist Peyton — has coated Prince’s star in gold leaf. That night at Target Center, Paul McCartney covers “Let’s Go Crazy.”

May 10: Nile Rodgers, Janelle Monaé, and Spike Lee are among the mourners at a private memorial service organized in Los Angeles by Prince’s ex-wives Mayte Garcia and Manuela Testolini.

May 18: Amid concerns that the measure is too broad, the Minnesota Legislature pumps the brakes on a fast-tracked PRINCE Act, a law that would give survivors the right to keep deceased celebrities’ names and likenesses from being exploited for profit. The brake-pumping turns into a full stop, and the measure never becomes law.

May 21: At the annual Art-a-Whirl crawl, Minneapolis artists honor Prince with a show called 57Princes.

May 22: Madonna and Stevie Wonder lead a Billboard Music Awards tribute to Prince, singing “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Purple Rain.”

May 23: At TCF Bank Stadium, Beyoncé delivers what Andrea Swensson calls a “devastating” performance of “The Beautiful Ones.”

June 1: As Prince’s catalog continues to sell, he smashes a longstanding chart record, with 19 albums (to the Beatles’ mere 13) simultaneously in the Billboard 200.

June 2: The Midwest Medical Examiner releases its autopsy report, confirming that the cause of Prince’s death was an accidental self-administered overdose of fetanyl.

June 4: The New Power Generation reunite for the first of three shows at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. Cecilia Johnson reported that “the tribute — more jamboree than bereavement, which felt appropriate — went well, running through all the hit songs and several deeper cuts.”

June 7: Although Prince didn’t celebrate his own birthday in his later years, fans in Minnesota and around the world uplift his legacy with dance parties, tours, discussions, and more on the day he would have turned 58. Governor Mark Dayton officially declares June 7 to be Prince Day in the State of Minnesota.

June 13: Prince is inducted to the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame. Paying tribute, Apollo president Jonelle Procope also asks for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the June 12 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

June 22: The New York Times publishes an interview with Judith Hill in which Prince’s musical collaborator and personal companion shares her account of the emergency airplane landing the week before Prince’s death. The interview makes clear just how surprised even Prince’s closest circle was about how dangerous his opioid habit had become.

June 23: A new Prince mural is unveiled on the wall of the Chanhassen Cinema, a theater near Paisley Park where Prince would often take busloads of guests for late-night screenings.

June 25: The BET Awards pay tribute to Prince throughout the annual ceremony, with Sheila E, Stevie Wonder, the Roots, Erykah Badu, Dave Chapelle, Jennifer Hudson, and Tori Kelly among those doing the honors.

July 1: At the Minnesota Zoo’s Weesner Family Amphitheater, Morris Day and the Time play their first hometown show since Prince’s death. Amidst tributes to his late friend and collaborator, Day gets in a dig at Bruno Mars, who channeled the Time in his smash hit with Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk.”

July 4: In Minneapolis, purple Independence Day fireworks are choreographed to the music of Prince.

July 10: Chaka Khan — who had a 1984 hit covering “I Feel for You” — enters rehab for fentanyl addiction, saying Prince’s death has caused her to start “rethinking and reevaluating” her “life and priorities.”

July 18: News breaks that prior to his death, Prince bought the Minneapolis house used for exterior photography of his character’s home in Purple Rain. It’s among a large amount of Twin Cities real estate Prince owned, much of which would shortly go on the market.

July 21: NYC-based artist Emily King plays the Cedar Cultural Center on a tour stop that was also slated to include a gig at Paisley Park, canceled after Prince’s death.

July 27: The Minnesota Wild tease the idea of trading their longtime goal music, Joe Satriani’s “Crowd Chant,” for Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” After a tsunami of fan response, the NHL franchise makes the change.

July 28: Prince’s family announce that a massive official tribute concert will be held Oct. 13 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

August 7: Prince’s estate denies any plans to sell Paisley Park, a rumor that started when estate administrator Bremer Trust petitioned for permission to sell any or all of Prince’s properties. They weren’t thinking of that one, says the bank.

August 13: Prince’s family gather for a private memorial service at Paisley Park, as fans stand reverently outside.

August 24: Prince’s estate announces that Paisley Park will open for public tours on October 6, five and a half months after Prince’s death. Over the next few weeks, the venue posts its first job openings, hosts a job fair at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and unveils its first merch.

August 26: The Minnesota State Fair pays tribute to Prince, turning many of its landmarks purple.

September 1: The Revolution reunite for the first of three emotional shows at First Avenue. Andrea Swensson calls it “a tribute forged out of passion and respect that was executed in a heightened emotional state, and that helped the audience power through every last feeling imaginable.”

September 15: The official Prince tribute concert is officially relocated from U.S. Bank Stadium to the smaller Xcel Energy Center, with a lineup including Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, and Anita Baker.

September 19: Tribute tickets go on sale, with fans crowding the Xcel lobby so as not to miss out. “People texted friends looking online,” wrote Cecilia Johnson. “They called each other with back-up plans; they marveled at Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and Anita Baker sharing the same stage.”

September 23: Sheila E., one of the highest-profile holdouts from the Xcel lineup, announces she’ll perform a Prince tribute for charity at Orchestra Hall on Oct. 23.

September 30: Research by MnDOT historian Kristin Zschomler emerges, marking major progress in the challenging quest to document the childhood homes of an itinerant Prince. Revelations include the fact that the apartment building where Prince lived in infancy is still standing, narrowly escaping I-35W construction; and that the house where Prince most likely first began seriously playing music was a low-slung North Minneapolis home that hadn’t previously been well-known even among fans.

October 3: Paisley Park’s opening as a museum is pushed back, as the Chanhassen City Council tables a rezoning necessary for the altered use. Concerns? Safety and, of course, traffic. Shortly, the city will grant a temporary permit for the museum to open on limited dates.

October 5: Despite the zoning hurdles, buzz for the new museum continues to build. Taking a tour, Al Roker of The Today Show forecasts “100% purple rain, baby!”

October 6: An exhausted-looking Joel Weinshanker, the Graceland-appointed manager of Paisley Park, officially declares the venue open to the public as a museum. While the museum is generally well-received, kinks are apparent; among them some under-informed tour guides and a short-lived photo op with one of Prince’s purple pianos. Those who visited during Prince’s lifetime find the museum experience poignant.

October 7: The story behind one of the museum’s biggest surprises emerges: Prince’s burial urn, shaped like a miniature Paisley Park and initially on display in the venue’s atrium, was crafted by Eden Prairie firm Foreverance. They’ve previously created an urn for the late Bob Casale shaped like his signature Devo hat, an Ace of Spaces hat for Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, and a megaphone for Scott Weiland.

October 10: Prince somehow earns a 2016 American Music Award nomination for 1984’s Purple Rain.

October 13: Mayor Chris Coleman officially declares Prince Day in the City of St. Paul as the Xcel Energy Center opens its doors for the official memorial concert, with Prince’s Minnesota Wild jersey on display. It’s also Prince Day in the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis, although the news is somewhat overshadowed by the state’s biggest music legend who’s not named Prince: on the very same day, Bob Dylan is named the first rocker to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The concert itself turns out not to feature Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, or Anita Baker — but there are no shortage of other artists on the Xcel stage in a five-hour marathon show that featured a video message from Barack Obama, a belly dance by Mayte Garcia, an inexplicable appearance by Nicole Scherzinger, and a cavalcade of Prince collaborators spanning his career. It’s Stevie Wonder, though, who steals the show: paying tribute to Prince, dipping into his own catalog, and joining Chaka Khan to reprise their collaboration on “I Feel for You.”

October 28: Not to be left out of the action, Chanhassen officially declares Paisley Park Day as, rezoning approved, the venue permanently opens as a museum.

November 7: Susannah Melvoin, a close collaborator of Prince’s, reminisces with Andrea Swensson about his tender nature and the song she co-wrote with him, “Starfish and Coffee.”

November 10: Paisley Park announces a plan to bring back dance parties, movies and even brunch for visitors of the museum in the form of “fan experience packages.”

November 20: Due to a surge in Purple Rain listening in 2016, the seminal album earns its fourth American Music Award for Top Soundtrack, 31 years after the original release.

December 7: Andrea Swensson details her journey to find peace at the place Prince once called Lake Minnetonka. “I still felt like I might be in danger of being caught, but by God, I had finally found a place to be alone with Prince,” Swensson writes of her time by the river in Henderson, Minnesota.


January 27: One of Prince’s pet doves, Majesty, passes away. Andrea Swensson looks back on his love for doves and their recurring symbolism in his work.

February 4: 10 years ago on this day, Prince put on an unforgettable Superbowl halftime show. The falling rain added even more majesty and mystery to the iconic performance. The set, consisting of covers and tracks from Purple Rain, now plays on loop across three screens at Paisley Park.

February 8: This week, CNN announced a new documentary that would “pull back the curtain” on Prince’s struggles. However, the documentary left many unsatisfied, like Andrea Swensson, who felt it brought more questions than answers about the circumstances of his passing.

February 12: A chunk of Prince’s catalog is released across all major streaming services, but not everything. Fans would have to wait for his albums released between 2004 and 2014, to be added eventually.

February 13: At the Grammys, the Time team up with Bruno Mars for a full-blown performance in honor of Prince. The tribute pays homage to his widespread influence as well as his Minneapolis roots.

March 22: Shelby J, a member of the New Power Generation and mentee of Prince, comes to town to preform her debut album, 10. Offstage, she tells Cecilia Johnson about their relationship and the artist community he built up throughout his life. “A lot of times within the industry, there can be ‘just one.’ But we’re always stronger together. And he’s our common denominator,” Shelby says.

April 17-29: Minnesota puts its heart and soul into commemorating Prince one year after his passing on April 21st, 2016. The Current Staff create a lengthy list of ways to celebrate and remember the local legend, including Minnesota History Center’s Purple Rain costume exhibit, the Revolution’s Paisley Park debut, a Prince-centered quilt exhibition, and many, many, dance parties.

April 19: Bobby Kahn details how Prince influenced and was influenced by another Midwest city, Detroit. Prince came to view it as a second home in part due to the fervent Prince fan base built by Detroit radio DJ, The Electrifying Mojo, who was a very early adopter of Prince.

April 21: On the anniversary of Prince’s death, Governor Mark Dayton declares April 21st “Prince Day” in the state of Minnesota. This is the third such proclamation in the past year.

Minneapolis photographer Steven Cohen revisits the poignant moments of mourning he captured last spring after the loss of Prince.

Jackie Renzetti looks back on five exceptional Prince-inspired homages and covers by local musicians.

April 24: After decades in storage, artwork that once hung in Prince’s night club, Glam Slam, moves onto the walls of a Northeast studio. Peyton Scott Russell, the artist behind these vibrant pieces, hosted the Glam Art exhibition on April 21.

April 28: “Electric Intercourse” is the first unreleased track from the deluxe reissue of Purple Rain to arrive on streaming platforms. The reissue includes 10 other  unreleased Prince tracks remastered by the original album’s engineer, Bernie Grundman.

May 19: A photograph of a Prince-shaped cloud dramatically backlit by sunbeams brings delight to Prince fans across the Internet.

June 7: Prince stopped celebrating the occasion later in life due to religious beliefs, but his followers don’t pass up the chance to pay tribute on what would have been the musician’s 59th birthday.

The Current Staff take a look at how Prince impacted 59 of his close collaborators and contemporaries.

Tyka Nelson releases a song and video dedicated to her brother Prince.

June 23: The arrival of the Purple Rain reissue brings back feelings of excitement and camaraderie for Prince fans. At the Electric Fetus, a listening party draws people from all over for a communal celebration. Bob Poppo, who traveled from Indiana, said, “Even though he’s not here anymore, he still draws people.”

July 22: Justin Vernon joins forces with the Revolution at Rock the Garden to sing vocals on “Erotic City.”

August 14: Pantone releases “Love Symbol #2,” a purple hue dedicated to Prince. The specific shade was sampled from the Purple One’s iconic Yamaha piano. Four months later, Pantone cites Prince as inspiration for their 2018 Color of the Year pick, “Ultra Violet.”

August 22: Renowned poet Sherman Alexie details his personal connection to Prince in a new poem. “Hymn” explores the inspiration Alexie found in Prince as an artist and individual.

September 21: Prince’s brother, Omarr Baker, returns to Paisley Park to record a few projects, including an album of Prince covers with New Power Soul. Other family members, such as Tyka Nelson and Sharon Nelson have also used this sacred space to make music since Prince’s passing.

October 13: Danny Sigelman reflects on Prince’s iconic symbol of self on the 25th anniversary of Prince’s 14th studio album. Now referred to as the Love Symbol Album, the songs and the unpronounceable symbol on the cover marked a transition in his musical career as well as his spiritual journey.

October 20: Sheila E. talks with Tom Weber and Andrea Swensson, touching on her new album and her dynamic history with Prince. “It’s a lifetime of memories, good and bad, but that’s what life’s about.” Sheila said. She reflects on her time with him at First Avenue, their on-and-off collaboration throughout the years and her impression of Paisley Park as a museum. “I was there hours after he passed and it was the hardest thing to walk into the building and smell him as soon as I hit that door and him not be there.”

Sheila E. portrait by Nate Ryan/MPR

November 6: One of Prince’s iconic Cloud guitars sells for $700,000 at an auction.

December 8: The Weisman Art Museum unveils an exhibit filled with Prince-inspired pieces. Prince from Minneapolis includes a six-panel painting, a seed portrait, work from four photographers who documented different parts of his career and more.


January 22: As the Super Bowl approaches, The Current maps out five essential stops for out-of-state Prince fans.

February 4: Rumors of a holographic Prince playing the halftime show stir up controversy in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. The smoke and mirrors tribute did not technically include a hologram but rather a projection of Prince on a screen singing Purple Rain. Other optical illusions that night included a Love Symbol seemingly cast across the city.

April 13: The Current explores Prince’s multifaceted musical legacy through a handy infographic and a wide collection of interviews with his collaborators.

April 17: A “supergroup of Prince nerds” assemble for a symposium as the second anniversary of his passing approaches. Hosted at the University of Minnesota, panels and breakout sessions dove deep into Prince’s legacy. Day one touched on the rich history of Black music in Minnesota and the cultural boundaries Prince blurred as he shaped the Minneapolis Sound. Day two brought presentations from familiar figures in Prince’s life, in-depth discussions of race, and tales of the creative genius’ intense work ethic.

April 19: The Twin Cities come together to celebrate the life Prince. Fans from near and far spend the weekend dancing, taking guided tours, partying at Paisley Park, running a 5k around Paisley Park and more.

April 25: Questlove proves his Prince chops on the Tonight Show when he successfully identifies Prince songs after hearing one second (or less) of each track.

May 7: American Idol contestants pull from Prince’s catalog in this week’s competition.

May 18: Curator Emma Balázs ensures that Prince is present at Minneapolis’ annual Art-A-Whirl with The People’s Museum for Prince.

June 7: Jay Gabler visits the birthplace of Prince Rogers Nelson on what would have been his 60th birthday. Formerly Mount Sinai Hospital, the building now serves Minneapolis residents struggling with substance addiction. Saul Selby, who works at the clinic, acknowledged that tragedies like Prince’s death draw awareness to the country’s opioid crisis.

June 8: Prince quietly funded many music education efforts during his lifetime. His close collaborators keep that legacy alive by donating a new music room at Anwatin Middle School.

June 27: Prince’s estate and Sony sign a new record label deal covering 35 Prince albums. Although Sony’s rights to a collection of 12 albums recorded before 1995 won’t kick in until 2021, fans will be able to access seminal works from the mid-1990s to 2010. These 23 albums hit streaming services in August.

July 4: Iconic performer Janelle Monáe plays an electrifying set at the State Theatre. Monáe has played shows in the Twin Cities for nine years but tonight is her first that won’t be attended by her mentor Prince.

July 12: The City of Chanhassen announces that 188-acres of woods, fields and wetland once owned by Prince will soon be the site of 200 residential homes. In the 1980s, the tucked away oasis included a windmill and a large yellow house where he recorded portions of Sign O’ the Times and The Black Album. Prince spent a decreasing amount of time there after Paisley Park opened in 1987, and eventually had the house razed in 2006.

September 11: Pitchfork declares Purple Rain the best album of the 1980s. Other Prince albums, such as Sign O’ the Times and 1999, also rank in their list of the top 200 albums from the decade.

September 21: 4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince makes a phenomenally funky debut in Brooklyn, New York. Orchestrated by Questlove, the tribute tour celebrates Prince’s “boundless creative output” without directly impersonating him. It presented instrumental interpretations of Prince songs with energetic arrangements, an electric fiddle solo and extravagant on-screen visuals.

September 26: Prince loved to play not just music, but sports of all sorts. Despite his short stature, Prince was something of a basketball star in school, reports Hanna Bubser. As a supporter of his hometown teams, he wrote a song for the Vikings and invited the entire Lynx team to party at Paisley Park after their 2015 WNBA championship.

September 27:  The University of Minnesota awards Prince an honorary doctorate for his public service. Musicians like Cameron Kinghorn and Jellybean Johnson join the student ensemble to celebrate with a few classic covers.

November 14: ABC sitcom black-ish celebrates Prince in their 100th episode, which weaves in lessons about his musical, cultural and political legacy.

December 17: Purple Raindrop, a sculpture by local artist Eshter Osayande, makes its public debut today. The 15-foot raindrop outline, will stand in Fairview Park as a permanent tribute to Prince.

December 20: Prince’s first manager, Owen Husney, gifts the the Minnesota Historical Society a press kit from 1977. The kit, which includes a short demo reel, represents Prince’s early days as an unknown artist hungry for his first record deal.

January 9: Bobby Z stops by to tell Prince tales about growing up together, the mysterious nature of his creativity and how an evening spent watching hotel HBO inspired one of his biggest hits. “There was a documentary about Nostradamus and the prediction of the end of the world,” Bobby said, “We were just glued to the TV.” The next morning, Prince greeted his crew with “1999.”

January 31: U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar shares the music that moves her. Her playlist includes Prince, who was one of the first artists Omar was introduced to when she moved to the United States.

February 19: Purple Rain collects another accolade when Pitchfork ranks it the second best movie soundtrack of all time. Pitchfork editor Jayson Greene describes it as “Some of the most powerful popular music of the last century, and some of the best we will ever get.”

February 25: Spike Lee, a longtime friend of Prince, dons a striking Purple Suit and Love Symbol necklace on the Oscars stage.

March 28: As the anniversary of Prince’s death approaches, Minnesota revs up for April’s flood of Prince dance parties, tributes and community gatherings.

April 19: On the other side of the world, Australian fans also go crazy celebrating Prince, affirming his global impact. “I look forward to being with my purple family and immersing myself in purple bliss” said Melbourne fan, Sofie Antoniou.

April 25: While building his own prolific catalogue, Prince also churned out hits for other artists over the years. A few examples are “Jungle Love” (The Time), “Manic Monday” (The Bangles) and “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Sinéad O’Connor). Prince’s own versions of these songs, most of which come from his Vault of unreleased music, would soon appear on an album dubbed Originals.

May 2: Celebration 2019, the annual multi-day extravaganza draws Prince devotees from all over to Paisley Park. Superfans share their highlights from this year’s festivities.

June 5: Prince fans around the world plan ways to celebrate Prince’s ‘born day’ on June 7. One Texas fan, Craig Alexander orchestrates the third annual “Prince Day” showcase in Houston. “Prince taught me that if you get to work and get busy, you can do it all,” Alexander said.

July 30: Laura LiPuma, the art director behind all the album artwork from Purple Rain through Lovesexy, had a special partnership with Prince. LiPuma describes how it began almost by accident and blossomed into a caring and often hilarious relationship. “I was like ‘Buddy, bring it on. I’ll take your weirdness.’”

August 22: Prince tributes take shape at the State Fair in the form of a seed portrait and a Floralpalooza feature.

September 19: Mysterious murals are popping up around the city, including a larger-than-life Prince painted on the Midtown Greenway. Kayla Song looks into the anonymous Netherlands street art crew behind the piece.

October 10: Another visual reminder of Prince’s permanent impact on Minnesota appears in North Loop. The multi-story mural, splashed against the black background of Floyd’s 99 Barbershop, depicts a Purple Rain-era Prince shredding on guitar surrounded by a soft purple aura.

December 11: The Library of Congress adds Prince’s iconic 1984 film, Purple Rain, to the National Film Registry for its aestethic and cultural significance. Director Albert Magnoli was deeply moved by the gesture, “We simply worked hard every day to get it right, and this honor is a testament to the music, story and characters that were created by all of us so many years ago.”

December 27: After years of directing dedicated fans to where Prince watched Apollonia take a swim in Purple Rain, the town of Henderson, Minnesota makes plans to install a bronze sculpture of the Purple One


January 21: Prince left behind a massive amount of unreleased music. His estate uncovered thousands of songs in his Paisley Park vault, and have shared a few with the public since his passing. Fans and scholars share their favorites.

April 3: Prince and First Avenue came to fame together in the 1980s. As First Avenue celebrates their 50th anniversary, Sylvia Jennings looks back on Prince’s performances at the downtown danceteria.

April 21: In the midst of stay-at-home Spring, Prince fans find a chance to dance when CBS airs “Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince.” The tribute, filmed in January, features dozens of Prince covers performed by a star-studded line-up including H.E.R., Sheila E., Maya Rudolph and her Prince cover band, and many more.

April 30: A large scale yarn installation creates purple rain in Chanhassen. The local artist behind the illusion, HOTTEA, achieved this with 4,200 purple strands hung over the bike path to Paisley Park. See the stunning effect of the piece swaying in the breeze here.

May 22: In a 1999 interview, Prince said, “I don’t celebrate birthdays, so that stops me from counting days, which stops me from counting time.” However, his fans across the world do celebrate June 7 each year, even when the dance parties move to Zoom.

May 29: To support those protesting the police killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Prince hosted a “Dance Rally 4 Peace” at Paisley Park in 2015. In 2020, as worldwide protests erupt over the police killing of George Floyd, the Prince estate releases the live recording of Prince’s “Dance Rally 4 Peace” to the public.

June 25: “Witness 4 the Prosecution (Version 1),” one of 63 unreleased songs on the upcoming Sign O’ the Times reissue, becomes available. The full release will arrive on Sept. 25. Physical packages of the reissue include bonuses like a DVD concert of Prince playing on-stage with Miles Davis and a 120-page book of photos, handwritten lyrics and liner notes.

July 1: Creators get to work after Prince’s catalogue of music legally enters the ethereal and surreal realm of TikTok.

August 14: Sound 80, the studio where Prince recorded demo tapes for his debut album, gains protection as a site on the National Register of Historic Places.

November 24: Minnesota once again gives thanks to Prince with a place in the GLOW Holiday Festival. Those driving through the Minnesota State Fair grounds to see the festive light display will encounter a Prince glyph pumping out hits, and will probably dance in their cars to the best of their ability.


January 5: The parking lot in front of the Schmitt Music mural is a historic site for Minnesota music fans. An iconic collection of Prince photos and a Lizzo music video were shot in that spot, which will soon be built up by a Houston-based developer.

March 23: Paisley Park announces plans to mark the five-year anniversary of Prince’s tragic death by opening their Atrium to the public on April 21st. “Prince’s passing remains incomprehensible to all of us.” Paisley Park director Alan Seiffert said, “On this day especially, we acknowledge the incredible force and inspiration Prince is in people’s lives and open up our doors for them to pay their respects.” Entrance is free, but reservations are required.

April 9: Sanaa Hamri, the director behind six Prince music videos, tells Maddie about some of the memorable moments she experienced working alongside him.

Compiled by Darby Ottoson and Jay Gabler