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Paisley Park

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Paisley Park exterior

Exterior of Prince's Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen, 2008.

Though Carver County is home to many historically significant people and places, its best-known are probably Prince and Paisley Park, his estate and arts production complex. Located in what was once a cornfield, the site is a key location in Minnesota's music history. In its heyday during the late 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, it drew artists and musicians from around the world to record, perform, and socialize.

Paisley Park was built in 1986 at the intersection of Highway 5 and Audubon Road in Chanhassen. A ten-million-dollar, 65,000-square-foot multimedia arts facility as well as a private home, it spans three separate wings. It contains two 48-track recording studios, a 24-track studio, a twelve-thousand-foot soundstage, a rehearsal and dance hall, editing suites, and dozens of offices. The studios offer a range of music-, film-, and video-production tools. The complex also contains its own live entertainment venue, NPG [New Power Generation] Music Club, and a full-size basketball court.

Working closely with Prince, Bret Thoeny of Boto Design in Venice, California, designed Paisley Park's structures and colorful (often purple) interior flourishes. Tushie Montgomery and Associates and Bossardt Christenson Corporation built them. Prince intended for Paisley Park to provide a place within Minnesota for himself and his peers to work on both film and music projects; he also wanted its technology to match or surpass that of its counterparts on the East and West Coasts.

Many musicians recorded or rehearsed at Paisley Park—among them James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin, as well as Kool and the Gang, Patti LaBelle, the Sesame Street touring company, and the casts of various Chanhassen Dinner Theatres productions. Prince himself recorded material for most of his post-Purple Rain albums there, from Sign o' the Times (1987) to Hit n Run Phase Two (2015). He used it as a headquarters for his Paisley Park record label until the venture folded in 1994.

Television commercials were produced and edited at Paisley Park, as were music videos, feature films, and concert films. Prince hosted concerts and parties on the site that became legendary for their convivial atmosphere, size, and noise levels. A raucous after-party and concert held in the estate's parking lot on September 15, 1988, began after 2 AM and lasted until close to 4 AM. Other gatherings marked more somber occasions. After the police-related death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in May 2015, Paisley Park provided a venue for a "Dance Rally 4 Peace" that honored Gray's memory.

When Prince died of an accidental drug overdose in April 2016, fans gathered outside the estate to pay tribute to the artist. Many left flowers, notes, artwork, balloons, and purple mementos at points along the exterior gate. A few months later, Graceland Holdings LLC—a company involved in operating Elvis Presley's Graceland—began to reorganize Paisley Park into a museum. Staff began offering guided tours to the public on October 6.

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Bream, Jon. "Prince's Paisley Park Is A Mini-Hollywood." Chicago Tribune, May 7, 1987.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-05-07/features/8702040156_1_outdoor-basketball-court-prince-paisley-park-studios

⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ . "Prince's Paisley Park." Minneapolis Star Tribune Sunday Magazine, August 14, 1988.

⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ . "Prince Yields to Miss Piggy, Parties in his Studio Parking Lot." Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 15, 1988.

Crawford, Richard. "Paisley Park Among Those Late on Taxes." Chanhassen Villager, March 25, 2010.

Durben, Mary. "Chan's Paisley Park Keeps Busy With Local, Big Name Artists." Carver County Herald, December 9, 1987.

Gunts, Edward. "A Look At Prince's Minneapolis Estate, Paisley Park Studios." Architects Newspaper, April 25, 2016.
https://archpaper.com/2016/04/prince-paisley-park-studios/

Hermes, Will. "Inside Prince's Groundbreaking Double LP 'Sign 'O' the Times'." Rolling Stone blog, March 31, 2017.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/inside-princes-groundbreaking-sign-o-the-times-w474150

Keller, Martin. "Creativity and Commerce Converge in Paisley Park: Smash Palace." Twin Cities Reader, September 2-8, 1987.

Lileks, James. "A Paltry Paisley Peek." Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 9, 2000.

Olson, Mark W. "Our Princely Identity." Chanhassen Villager, March 17, 2004.

Paisley Park. About.
https://officialpaisleypark.com/pages/about

Palleschi, Amanda. "Purple Pride: Inside Paisley Park and the Psyche of Prince Fans." Chanhassen Villager, June 19, 2004.

Related Images

Paisley Park exterior
Paisley Park exterior
Color image of Album Sleeve (front), Paisley Park Records
Color image of Album Sleeve (front), Paisley Park Records
Color image of Album Sleeve (back), Paisley Park Records
Color image of Album Sleeve (back), Paisley Park Records
Black and white photograph of old farmstead and Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN
Black and white photograph of old farmstead and Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN
View of exterior of Paisley Park
View of exterior of Paisley Park
View of front of Paisley Park Studios
View of front of Paisley Park Studios
Bird's-eye view of Paisley Park complex
Bird's-eye view of Paisley Park complex
Paisley Park Studios, 2015
Paisley Park Studios, 2015
Fan tributes to Prince outside Paisley Park
Fan tributes to Prince outside Paisley Park

Turning Point

In March 1986, Prince records a song at Paisley Park for the first time. The track, "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker," is eventually included on Sign o' the Times.

Chronology

1983

While filming Purple Rain in Minneapolis, Prince conceives the idea of building a studio complex that can meet the needs of musicians and filmmakers in Minnesota and beyond.

1986

Construction of Paisley Park is complete. In March, Prince begins to use its studios to record music for the first time. Much of Sign o' the Times is produced there.

1987

On New Year's Eve, Paisley Park hosts a benefit concert to raise money for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

1988

Prince finishes recording Lovesexy, his tenth studio album, at Paisley Park in January.

1991

Prince uses Paisley Park to record the studio album Diamonds and Pearls—his thirteenth—with The New Power Generation.

1996

Parts of Paisley Park close for remodeling.

1999

Prince films his "Rave Un2 the Year 2000" concert live on New Year's Eve at Paisley Park.

2000

Guides conduct public tours of studios inside Paisley Park during a special event.

2014

Prince releases two albums: Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum. Both were recorded at Paisley Park.

2016

After Prince's death in April, fans gather at Paisley Park and leave personal notes, artwork, and purple mementos at the exterior gate.

2016

In October, Paisley Park begins to offer tours of the estate to the public.