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Paisley Park: A Place of Music, Mystery and Undeniable Magic

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In 1985, Prince and the Revolution came out with a surprise album called Around the World in a Day, on which they speak of a place that was in the beginning stages of development. “There is a park that is known for the face it attracts,” Prince sings on the song “Paisley Park.” “Colorful people whose hair on 1 side is swept back.” He continues by proclaiming “Admission is easy, just say you believe and come to this place in your heart. Paisley Park is in your heart.”

This lyric and the sentiment behind it would come to define one of the most mysterious studio complexes ever built. Conceptualized in 1983 and completed in 1987, Paisley Park became the epicenter of Prince’s creative endeavors and served as a beacon for a multitude of other artists. Designed by Los Angeles-based architect Bret Thoeny in collaboration with Prince, the building, from the outside, looks futuristic yet sterile, lacking the flamboyance that people expected from Prince. The inside, however, is an entirely different story.

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The complex, which boasts four recording studios, two rehearsal spaces, a 12,400 square foot soundstage, common areas, performance areas, dressing rooms, several offices, a private living space for Prince and the famous Vault of unreleased material, has undergone periodic renovations, slowly growing to reflect Prince’s personality. From the pictures that have leaked over the years, we know that Paisley Park is just as psychedelically colorful as one would expect it to be. However, only a selection of people have ever had the privilege of walking those halls and witnessing first-hand the musical magic contained within, thereby adding to the building’s enigmatic appeal.

When Prince unexpectedly died in April, many questions swirled around the fate of Paisley Park. Would the building remain closed forever? Would it be sold? Would it become a museum to honor and celebrate Prince’s legacy? According to Prince’s family and closest friends, a museum is exactly what Prince had intended for the complex—over the years, he had gone to great effort to collect and store various memorabilia from throughout his career and had even begun to create a museum-esque layout for the Park—so that became the Estate’s primary objective in the months following his passing.

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Ultimately, they were successful; on August 24, it was announced that Paisley Park would be opening for public tours as a museum starting as early as October 6. An official statement from Prince’s sibling reads as follows: “The new Paisley Park museum will offer fans a unique experience, an exhibition like no other, as Prince would have wanted it. Most important, the museum will displace Prince’s genius, honor his legacy and carry forward his strong sense of family and community.” On these museum tours, guests will have access to the main floor of Paisley Park, which houses Prince’s recording and mixing studios. They will also have the chance to view his video-editing suites, rehearsal spaces, private NPG Music Club and the soundstage and concert hall. In addition to being a museum, the complex would also still host concerts, special events, and recording sessions, although nothing has been scheduled for the near future. More details on the tours and ticket prices can be found here: https://www.officialpaisleypark.com/

For many fans, this is just one step on the road to securing Prince’s musical legacy. Another important concern is getting the building designated a National Historic Landmark to guarantee its longevity and protect it from any demolition. To achieve this, a petition began circulating online detailing why Paisley Park deserves this unique honor. Already, it has secured over 12,000 signatures, but it needs more support.

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For the purpose of saving time, I will not reiterate all the reasons why Paisley Park meets the criteria for being named a National Historic Landmark—the aforementioned petition does a far better job of that than I ever could—but I will say that, in addition to being Prince’s primary residence from 2006 until the day he died, the Park has also served as the place where he recorded some of his most iconic albums, including Sign O’ The Times, Lovesexy and Diamonds and Pearls. It’s the place where he filmed his sequel to Purple Rain, Grafitti Bridge, as well as many of his music videos, and the place where the movies Grumpy Old Men and Drop Dead Fred were partially filmed. Furthermore, it has also hosted a number of other notable musical acts, such as Mavis Staples, R.E.M., George Benson, Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, Steve Miller, The Beastie Boys, Hammer, Freddie Jackson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Neil Young, Kool & The Gang and Jeff Beck, among others. Therefore, its significance to both musical history and to American history, in general, cannot be disputed. The only thing left to do is lend your support to the petition below so that this exceptional structure can be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.

https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-designate-prince-rogers-nelson-s-paisley-park-as-a-national-historic-landmark

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