Paisley Park Tours: Walking in the Footsteps of Prince

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It would not be a visit to Minneapolis without a trip to the former studio of one of its most popular former residents, and you can do this today through Paisley Park tours. One of the most famous, and most beloved, residents Minneapolis ever knew who was known to the city, the country, and the world, simply as Prince.

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My Thoughts on Prince

I enjoyed Prince during his heyday in the 80s with my big hair and scary bright blue makeup (no, there will be no photo evidence). Though I enjoyed his music, I can’t say I was a huge fan of his and once the clock struck and the year of 1999 was over, I simply appreciate a song here or there that I heard on the radio.

I didn’t follow him, and I didn’t really understand the significance of the era of “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” After going on the Paisley Park Tours, I’m a bit sad that I didn’t follow him more closely as he was an incredible artist. Truly incredible. Perhaps this post is my way of making up for my lack of fandom, but I will say anyone with even a passing curiosity about him will really enjoy this tour.

Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson was a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. He was an incredible artist whose talent with more than 26 instruments was self-taught, which is pretty amazing. Prince was known throughout his long career which spanned four decades for his artistic innovation and his flamboyant appearances. He was one of the top-selling artists of all time selling over 100 million records.

Prince wrote his first song at the age of 7, called “Funk Machine.” His second album went platinum in 1979. However, he really hit the consciousness of the country in 1984 when he starred in the film, Purple Rain, and created the soundtrack. According to Rolling Stone, the Purple Rain soundtrack is number 72 of the top 500 hits of all time.

In 1993, in rebellion against his record label, Warner Brothers, Prince adopted the “love symbol” as his stage name, a combination of the male and female symbols. He was referred to as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Once his contract ended in 2000 he stopped using this and went back to Prince as his stage name.

He continued collaborating with other artists with his guitar, songwriting, and voice and amassed a tremendous body of work until his death in 2016. Prince was a consummate entertainer, always trying something new and pushing into new areas of artistic creation.

The country lost a legend, and Minneapolis lost a local hero.

Paisley Park

Paisley Park is the $10M 65,000-square foot recording and production complex Prince started building in the mid-1980s. It was the realization of his dream to create an all-purpose building to fan the flames of his talent and that of others. He always loved paisley and thought it was a metaphor for flowing and he enjoyed that visual in relation to his work. Music and creativity ever-flowing.

Prince produced, performed, and recorded a lot of his work here, and many other notable musicians recorded there as well including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, and others. It is a unique space designed to nurture his musical talents and that of others.

Prince held many spontaneous performance events here, inviting the public into the NPG Music Club or the Sound Stage for epic sets of live music that went on throughout the night.

In his words on the website, “Paisley Park is pretty much representative of everything I am musically.”

He planned for opening Paisley Park to tours after he was gone and to make it a museum of sorts, and left very specific instructions as to how he wanted his life within the walls to be displayed. Step inside to feel what it was like to be awash with so much creativity and talent.

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Paisley Park

Paisley Park Tours

There are several tour options available and they must be purchased online in advance of your visit. Tickets are not sold onsite at the residence. Pass the velvet rope for the tour of your choice.

General Admission

Cost

General Admission tickets are available for $38.50 – $50. An early purchase general admission offer of $38.50 is available until it sells out, then the remaining tickets are $50.

Tour Length

This is a guided tour that lasts approximately 70 minutes.

What You See

  • Main floor including the recording studios
  • Soundstage and concert hall where tour rehearsals were held and where his private concerts were
  • Private NPG Music Club

VIP Tour

Cost

The VIP tour cost is $100.

Tour Length

This is a guided tour with an expert guide for around 100 minutes.

What You See

You see all of the rooms in the General Admission tour as well as:

  • Prince’s rehearsal rooms and video editing suites
  • Additional rooms and studio areas
  • Additional artifacts from the archives
  • Exclusive photo opportunity

On Thursdays, VIP tours record live vocals over a short segment of a Prince song in Studio B. The Mix is available for purchase.

The “Ultimate Experience”

This tour is offered only on select Sundays and every Monday, Friday, and Saturdays.

Cost

The Ultimate Experience tour costs $160.

Tour Length

This tour lasts for 3 hours.

What You See

You will see everything from the General Admission and VIP Tours as well as:

  • Access to all three studios onsite: A, B, and C
  • View a private screening of exclusive video footage in the editing suite
  • Special audio playback session in the Studio B control room
  • View additional archive items not available to the other tours
  • Enjoy a light beverage at the conclusion of the tour

Paisley Park Tours After Dark

Cost

This tour cost is $60.

Tour Length

This tour is on two Saturday nights a month only and is in the tradition of the Paisley Park After Dark events that Prince hosted.

What You See

This tour is in the spirit of the Paisley Park After Dark late-night events Prince hosted. The tour includes:

  • General Admission tour
  • Live DJ dance party in the NPG Music Club Room
  • Stay onsite until 11 p.m. when the event ends

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My Paisley Park Tour

I went on the General Admission tour and my mind was blown pretty much after passing the velvet rope. The room I walked into is a massive entryway with over-the-top artwork of sky and clouds and doves flying around covered with symbolism with his symbol on the floor. It gives a sense of free-flowing creativity.

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Source: Official Paisley Park Website

There are a number of small rooms off the large room as you walk in work outfits he wore, guitars, awards, and other things Prince.

Little Kitchen

There is a little kitchen (aptly named the same) which includes some retro tables and benches covered in leather with black and white stripes. At the other end, there is a sofa with a television as well as a telecaster guitar displayed. Our guide said there used to be raging parties here on weekends.

Studio A

Nearby is Studio A where LoveSexy, Diamonds & Pearl, and Batman were recorded. James Brown, Aretha Franklin, REM, and Madonna also recorded in Studio A. Prince believed that people should make music together and share equally. On display is a drum machine and synthesizer used in “When the Doves Cry.”

Prince wasn’t only the artist but also acted as a recording engineer and producer. The main booth hosts a chair so he could do these simultaneously instead of the typical standing setup. There are several other booths in this studio for other vocals, drums, and synthetics.

We got to listen to a new piece not yet released called, “Rough Enough.”

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Source: Official Paisley Park Website

Influence Hallway

This area is a large mural that covers both sides of the hallway covered with the artists who influenced Prince’s work. Some of the people listed were expected, and others a bit of a surprise. The artists included Mitchell, Hendrix, Armstrong, Brown, Davis, Ray Vaughn Clinton, and contemporaries like Tower of Power, Wendy and Lisa, Apolonia, Jimmy Jam, Chaka Kahn, and others.

1st Ave And 7th Street Downtown Danceteria

This room is a dedication to Purple Rain. It was a dance studio where he did choreography for his movies. The walls are covered with pictures from Purple Rain and the center of the room has a display with his motorcycle, outfits, guitar, a keyboard, all from the movie

Movie Rooms

Next were several rooms dedicated to some of his other movies including Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge. The walls in each room were covered in pictures and images from the movie and the room contained many items from the movie including outfits he wore, drum kits, guitars, and other items. All of these were designed post-humously based on his instructions found on his laptop.

History Hallway

Prince supervised the installation of this hallway with many of his awards and achievements. It includes his first album released when he was 19 in 1978. The walls in this area have most of his awards anywhere inside or outside the building.

There are also key images from different periods of time in his life, including the period of time from 1993 to 2000 when he felt enslaved by his Warner Brother publishing contract. His five self-published albums paved the way for other artists to emancipate themselves from the record labels.

Piano Room

The centerpiece in this room is a Schimmel Pegasus grand piano worth around $200k. It’s very rare and there are only a few in the world. This one has a hydraulic lid on it. The room served as a relaxation room for Prince and there are pinball machines as well.

Sound Stage

The Graffiti Bridge film was recorded here as well as many others. There is a red light over the door and a large stage lined with many of Prince’s outfits through the years. Some of the suits had sparkles and one features a sky with clouds on it.

There are three cars towards one end of the room: a white BMW Z3, a Purple Plymouth Growler, and a robin-egg blue Bentley.

The room also features two large purple chairs that look like thrones and a large projector showing clips of Prince through the years.

NPG Music Club

The last room on the tour was the NPG, New Power Generation, Music Club. This is where he had his epic events and fans came to party with him and he’d play well into the night. It was often announced on social media and people would line up hoping they could get in.

Towards the back of the club, his favorite movie was up on a screen, Finding Nemo, leading through a passageway to his dressing room. A silver door led to his personal chef’s kitchen.

The Fence

When Prince passed away on 4/21/2016, fans created an organic fence tribute around Paisley Park covered in purple, sparkles, images, fish from Finding Nemo. All of the non-perishable items were saved and some of it was set up here.

Gift Shop

Of course, no tour would be complete without a visit to the gift shop. This store has a lot of Prince recreations from his many personas as well as Prince tees and Paisley Park items. You can even buy the little fish from Finding Nemo.

There is a TV playing his Superbowl Halftime show, where it was raining incredibly hard. He didn’t let it stop him, and in fact, he said, “Can you make it rain harder!?” Always the entertainer.

Things to Know Before You Go on Paisley Park Tours

  • Tickets are not refundable
  • Younger-aged children are restricted from the tours (under age 5 for general admission, under age 10 for the VIP Tour, and under age 12 for the Ultimate Tour)
  • One parking spot is issued per transaction
  • There are additional fees (service fee plus facility fee) added to tickets ranging from $7.50 to $11.75 per ticket
  • No taking pictures is allowed: your phone is locked up in a soft pouch that you can get unlocked as you are leaving the property
  • Don’t arrive more than 20 minutes before your time slot

Paisley Park is open on Sunday and Monday from 10 – 5, Tuesday and Friday from 10 – 7, Thursday from 10 – 8, Saturday from 9 – 8, and it is closed on Wednesdays. It is located at 7801 Audubon Rd, Chanhassen, MN 55317. There is free parking on site.

Prince’s Legacy

Prince was an icon of music and film, also known for film and technology. Paisley Park tours provide you with a glimpse into his life and you are enswirled with a massive array of his artistry, from the murals, outfits, inspired artwork, and the sound stage. Every room is filled with the immense creativity that was Prince.

There’s no denying Prince’s rare talent. And his generosity in working with other artists and sharing his talents with his local people.

Can you ever look at the color purple, or sequins and sparkles, and not think of him? Paisley Park represents everything Prince was, is, and always will be, nestled in his Minneapolis.

“I like Hollywood. I just like Minneapolis a little bit better.” Prince

First Ave & 7th Street Entry

First Ave & 7th Street Entry proudly boasts that it is your “downtown danceteria since 1970.” This place put many artists on the map and has showcased some incredible bands now displayed in a star on the outside of the building. It is one of the longest-lived and best-known independent rock clubs in the country.

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Though it’s technically two clubs, known locally as Mainroom and the Entry, this place has been around forever and is a landmark in downtown Mill City. There are 53 stars on the outside walls commemorating some of the acts who played there, and Prince has a star, of course. His first show was here on March 9, 1981.

Visiting is one of the popular things to do in Minneapolis, especially for sentimental Prince fans.

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Prince’s Star at First Ave

First Ave & 7th Street Entry is located at 701 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (at the intersection of First Ave and 7th Street.)

Why Paisley Park Tours are Worth Doing

Whether you are a fan of Prince or appreciate some of his work over his extensive career, Paisley Park tours are worth your time when you are in Minneapolis. One of the cities’ most famous residents recorded and produced a lot of his work here, and you can see what an incredibly talented artist he was.

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