The Prince of MN

prince, minnesota monthly
Prince’s 1997 cover. photo by Steve Parke

The sudden passing of Prince in April shocked the nation and the world. Nowhere were the memories as intense as here in Minnesota, where he rubbed shoulders with us and opened up his Paisley Park compound to celebrate over the years. In a 1997 Minnesota Monthly cover story by Martin Keller, Prince had temporarily changed his name to a symbol and was enjoying a creative resurgence, with a new album and a renewed control over his music that he would maintain until the end. A few select quotes:

“It got to the point a few years ago in my life where I really had to ask myself, Who am I? and, What was my music for? Was it just for selling? … I realized I was an autonomous person on this earth … I wanted a free and clear channel to my audience for what I do.”

“The rock star thing is dead. I mean I still have bodyguards for my own personal safety but that whole deal is over for me. I’m not that anymore, that rock star trip. I did it. It’s finished.”

“Now that I’m free to record and release my work as I see fit, I feel brand new. Emancipation seems like my first record. For once I own my work, lock, stock, and biscuits! Never again will I go back to the narrow-minded approach of the business I was trapped in before.”

“I’m as much a part of the city where I grew up as I am anything. I was very lucky to be born here because I saw both sides of the racial issue, the oppression and the equality. I got the best of all worlds here.”

“You can say all you want about me and my bands over the years, but you have to admit, we attracted the most diverse crowds to our concerts—blacks, whites, and people of all ages. We broke down a lot of barriers.”

“But you know the old [Twin Cities radio station] KQ after midnight, that was the bomb station. I’d stay up all night listening to it. That’s where I discovered Carlos Santana, Maria Muldaur, and Joni Mitchell. Was I influenced by that? Sure I was.”