Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) was born in Minneapolis, MN in 1958. He graduated from Central High School in 1976, and quickly caught the attention of the entire music world shortly thereafter.
Much has already been written about Prince and we won’t repeat that information here. A simple search on Google for Prince Rogers Nelson will provide answers to most questions about this extremely talented Minnesotan. There is one aspect of his life that isn’t covered much involving his early development as a recording artist.
The Early Beginnings
It was while Prince attended Central High School in Minneapolis, MN that he began his recording career. The first recording studio that Prince stepped into was MoonSound Studios in south Minneapolis. MoonSound was a small studio owned and operated by British born, Chris Moon, a talented recording engineer and budding entrepreneur.
Chris first established MoonSound Studios in the basement of a small, single family home at about 57th and Stevens Ave in 1974. It’s likely that Prince had heard of Moon Sound at this time, but Prince’s first demo was recorded later. His friend André Cymone had done some recording with 94 East at the Stevens Ave location though.
Within a couple of years, Chris Moon moved MoonSound Studios into a commercial building at 2828 Dupont Ave So. (later demolished and replaced in about 2014.). It was this location where Prince recorded his first demo tape.
At MoonSound Studios, Chris taught Prince the basics of multi-track recording and gave him access to a variety of musical instruments like a piano, electronic keyboards, synthesizers, drums, etc.. It was during this time that Prince first learned how to record and mix all of the instruments he played. Chris eventually gave Prince a set of keys to his studio and he would show up after school and evenings to record.
Moon quickly realized that he had a true talent on his hands, and together they began working on a demo tape that could be presented to record labels. Their first few attempts to secure a record label failed and Chris soon realized that they needed to find someone with better connections to the music business world. As a result, Chris introduced Prince to Owen Husney, an advertising and music industry executive in Minneapolis that Chris had worked with in the past. They sent Husney a demo tape and shortly thereafter, Husney became Prince’s first manager. This partnership would eventually lead to a record deal with Warner Bros… the rest is musical history.
Prince Landmarks in Minneapolis
If you’d like to see some Prince Landmarks in Minneapolis, be sure to visit First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. This was the setting for many scenes in the movie Purple Rain. It was also an early hangout for Prince. Also visit the Capri Theater where Prince played his first solo shows in 1979. Finally, be sure to visit his recording studio and home Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, MN. It is now open for tours.
If you can’t make it to the Minneapolis area, there are several photographs of Paisley Park on the web site of the architectural firm that designed it, Boto Design Architects.
Note: Prince’s high school, Central High School in Minneapolis, MN was closed in 1982 and then demolished. A new school was built in the same location called Richard R. Green Central Park School.
Prince Fun Facts
- Prince’s name (Prince Rogers Nelson) came from his father’s stage name. His father John Nelson was a jazz musician who played under the stage name “Prince Rogers”. His group was called The Prince Rogers Trio.
- Prince wrote many songs for other artists, but is credited for those songs under different names like; Alexander Nevermind, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Christopher, and more.
- Prince was raised a Seventh-Day Adventist, but later became a member of the Jehovah’s Witness Church (in 2001). He was baptized into the church in 2003.
- Prince’s childhood home from 1972 to about 1977 was in the 1200 block of Russell Avenue North in Minneapolis. This home is under interim historical protection by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission until the designation process is completed. (source: Preservation Alliance of Minnesota)
- His net worth at time of death (April 2016) is estimated to be around $300 million. (source: bizjournals.com)
- In 2016 Prince sold more albums than any other artist that year (source: Nielsen Music), even more than the 2016 Grammy Award winner, Adele.
- Prince owned the following properties at the time of his death. We have removed the street numbers of the non-Paisley Park properties in respect of the privacy of those at those areas. (source: bizjournals.com):
- Paisley Park studio (7801 Audubon Rd, Chanhassen, MN): nine acres valued at $7.01 million (2016 Carver County property tax records).
- 187 acres of undeveloped land (Chanhassen, MN): With an estimated value of $16.43 million (2016 Carver County property tax records).
- Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis: Built in 1904, this was one of his childhood homes. Hennepin County assessed its value at $87,000 in 2016.
- A single-family home on King Creek Road in Golden Valley. The half-acre lot and 1985-built one-story house is worth $431,000, according to Hennepin County (2016).
- An undeveloped lot on Aztec Drive in Eden Prairie, MN: 0.91 acres with an assessed value of $247,000. Prince apparently bought the land with the intent to build Paisley Park there. The City Council turned him down after nearby homeowners raised concerns about the potential noise, according to a reader who owns an adjacent parcel in Eden Prairie.
Prince died unexpectedly on April 21, 2016 due to an accidental overdose of the opioid – fentanyl. According to published reports, Prince had been taking pain killers due to ongoing pain from hip surgery done in the mid-2000s.
His impact on the Minneapolis Sound and the world of music is well documented, BUT he still loved to listen to the classics. One of the last record purchases he made was at the Electric Fetus record store (in Minneapolis, MN) just 5 days before his death. He bought a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” to commemorate Record Store Day and tweeted the following:
Prince @prince Apr 16 Chanhassen, MN
FETUS, THANX 4 THE TUNES! ROCKED STEVIE’S TALKING BOOK ALL THE WAY HOME! #RecordStoreDay
This was his last tweet.