PHOTOS: Purple pilgrimage

First Ave. Prince memorial -- photo by Matthew Terry
First Ave. Prince memorial — photo by Matthew Terry

Paisley Park, the personal sanctuary and recording studio of the enigmatic purple one, Prince, beckoned my friends and me to Minnesota last Saturday — specifically, to Chanhassen, an unassuming business park some 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Paisley Park -- photo by Matthew Terry
Paisley Park — photo by Matthew Terry

Built in 1988, this studio was the birthplace of some of the biggest pop songs of the last 3 decades. On Apr. 21, 2016, less than a week after hosting what would be his last installment of the storied “Paisley After Dark” dance parties, Prince took his final breath in an elevator of the building.

A throng overwhelmed our arrival. Accompanying the fans and friends, the media paparazzi and the local police had their own sort of vigil.

There was a distinct sadness blanketing the grounds; except for when a man pushed a bike with a small stereo on the seat, blasting Prince’s music along the closed-off road, it often felt as if the wind was the only noise to be heard within the immense crowd.

The fence surrounding Paisley Park was covered in purple condolences, masses of purple and magenta flowers littered the ground, while others were suspended and intertwined within the fence itself. Drawings, paintings and personal poems were also part of this collage of admiration. While hundreds arrived to leave their various symbols of love and respect along the fence line, many traveled along the wall enthralled, simply reading and pulling out phones to capture the outpouring of love left by those that came prior.

The impact this androgynous artist made on the world is undeniable. There were signs on the wall from all across the country — people from California, Kentucky and New York paid their respect and adoration for the boundary-pushing artist whose very name became a glyph.

A few blocks south of Marquette, in the welcoming purple glow of restaurants and hotels, sits First Avenue, the venue made famous largely in part by Prince and his movie, Purple Rain, after many of the film’s live performance scenes were filmed here.

First Avenue is home to another memorial honoring the late Minneapolis based artist. The growing memorial centers around the Prince star on the wall near the venue’s entrance. Flowers were piled three feet high.

Sunday morning brought storms and a sparse crowd along the street. Twenty people with a musical bond collected along the historical corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street to pay their respects. The wet weather only seemed to underscore the loss of one of the greatest musicians of our time.

Paisley Park -- photo by Matthew Terry
Paisley Park — photo by Matthew Terry

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