In the days following Prince’s death, fans from all over have found themselves drawn to Paisley Park, a 65,000-square-foot compound that embodies the man’s musical genius.
As tributes to Prince’s life and career are contemplated, here is one that is almost obvious: Turn Paisley Park into Minnesota’s equivalent of Graceland — a memorial to the decades-long career of Prince Rogers Nelson, who proved to the music world that you didn’t have to leave home to make it big. Musician and longtime Prince collaborator Sheila E. recently told “Entertainment Tonight” that such a development may be in the works and that Prince already had been planning it.
From the outside, Paisley Park might appear an unlikely choice. Its exterior is understated to the point of severity: A plain white, mostly windowless facility that almost looks industrial, it blends easily into the featureless Chanhassen landscape. But inside may be one of the truest reflections ever seen of the relationship between an artist and the one-of-a-kind space in which he created.
Few artists have been so closely aligned with a physical place as Prince was with Paisley Park. More than a recording studio, even more than a home, it was his refuge — not only where he lived, but where he recorded most of his music for the last quarter-century. Within its rooms he rehearsed, meditated, hosted after-concert parties and regularly invited in fans. It’s where he serenaded Madonna after she performed in concert here last year, and where last October he hosted a raucous party for the Minnesota Lynx women’s basketball team after they became world champions. He threw pajama parties, complete with a pancake breakfast in the morning. More than a few lucky Minnesotans have made the last-minute, late-night trek to Chanhassen for glimpses of their idol. While little is known about the interior space in its current state, Paisley Park at times has housed everything from Prince’s unique collection of costumes to the motorcycle he rode in his signature movie, “Purple Rain.”
But more than just a museum, Paisley Park should also become a space for carrying on the work of mentoring artists, something Prince made a point of doing through much of his life. From singer Janelle Monae to ballet star Misty Copeland, Prince cultivated young talent, widening his mark on the musical scene. In a recent tribute performance to her mentor over the weekend, Monae said of Prince: “He was free. He was fearless. He was music. . I am because he was.”
It wasn’t until six years after his death that Elvis Presley’s Memphis home, which he dubbed Graceland, was open to the public. Since then it has itself become iconic, drawing 650,000 visitors a year. Less than a decade after it opened, Graceland was declared a National Historic Landmark.
It’s too soon to tell whether Paisley Park might achieve such heights. But we can think of no more fitting tribute to Prince than to have his home continue as a place where fans can marvel at his work and new, young artists can find the same creative haven it became for its owner.
— The Minneapolis Star Tribune,