Less than a month after playing two shows in Toronto, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in the elevator at his Paisley Park recording studio at the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, MN early Thursday morning. He had previously suffered a medical emergency on April 15th which resulted in a brief hospital stay apparently for flu-like symptoms.
Selling over 100 million albums, winning 7 Grammys and even an Academy Award, for his movie Purple Rain, Prince was a leading light in the U.S r&b movement of the 80’s and 90’s which helped put Minneapolis on the country’s music map. How ironic is it that the diminutive 57-year old star who recorded such hits as “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain”, “Raspberry Beret”, “Red Corvette” and “1999” should pass away in the same building which he created so many of his hit recordings.
Prince was notoriously press shy who gave very few interviews during his career which made it a challenge for magazines like Music Express – but we tried! Our closest encounter occurred as he was opening his new Paisley Park facility with the recording of his 1988 “Lovesexy” release.
Music Express had firmly established itself as the prime promotional vehicle for Minneapolis based , Musicland/Sam Goody and with a monthly circulation of over 1.3 million copies through more than 1,000 U.S record stores, our publication was a prime promotional outlet for the major record industry at that time.
Wanting to build on the success Prince had established with his “Sign O The Times” 1987 release, his distributor, Warner Bros, had asked for the cover of our May 1988 issue. Problem was that to get a cover, we had to execute an interview – which with Prince was near impossible.
As a compromise, Warner agreed to fly one of our writers, the late Dianne Collins out to Minneapolis where a restricted press junket of top North American writers were invited to spend two days touring the complex, interviewing select musicians at the facility and enjoy a private concert preview of the |”Lovesexy” release.
During those two days, Dianne interviewed Morris Day of The Time, one of Prince’s closest cohorts, top producers Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam as well as Sheila E who played percussion on the record and was a member of his band at the time. Dianne interviewed several other key players and studio personnel but, like everyone else, didn’t obtain any interview time with the star himself.
So, after enjoying the private spectacle of Prince’s studio concert, Dianne is leaving the room when she remembered she had forgotten her purse. She returned back to the studio just as Prince walked towards her. Prince looked at her, smiled and said “Hi!”, Dianne returned the complement with a “Hi” of her own as he departed backstage.
Returning back to the Music Express headquarters in Toronto, Dianne called in to report her adventures. `Did you get an interview with Prince,` asked I. `Yes I got an exclusive comment from him,“ she responded. `He said Hi.`