Purple reign: Prince's Paisley Park opens

His death shocked the world, but Prince's legacy lives on at Paisley Park, now open to visitors

By Pat Riddell
Published 9 Dec 2016, 08:00 GMT, Updated 19 Jul 2021, 15:47 BST
Paisley Park

Paisley Park

Photograph by GETTY IMAGES

Prince's was one of many unexpected celebrity deaths in 2016. Like David Bowie, he operated effortlessly in numerous genres of music — changing the pop landscape as he did so. He also challenged perceptions of sexual, racial and gender roles. The mystery and secrecy that surrounded him were embodied by his Paisley Park home and recording studio complex, inside whose hallowed walls only the most privileged visitors were allowed. 

"Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on," says Tyka Nelson, Prince's sister. 

Only a small number of select people had the chance to tour the estate during his lifetime. His 'creative sanctuary', where he wrote, recorded and produced much of his iconic work, remains a part of his mysterious persona. Was it really completely purple? Did it really have a private nightclub and concert hall? Is it home to a confusing labyrinth of corridors?

Despite looking like an IT warehouse on the M4 corridor, the 65,000sq ft, $10m complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota has now opened to the ticket-buying public. Yes, no longer is Paisley Park off limits to all but a select few. And, in keeping with Prince's notoriously shy nature, cameras and mobile phones are not allowed on site. A special four-day event, Celebration 2017, will celebrate the life and legacy of Prince (20-23 April), as the world marks the first anniversary of his passing.

The inspiration: 


Although Elvis Presley's former estate in Memphis, Tennessee now receives over 650,000 visitors a year, his widow, Priscilla Presley, wasn't sure if it would be a success when it opened in 1982. Yet, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and has revitalised the local economy. The recently-opened 450-room Guest House at Graceland is the largest hotel project in Memphis in over 90 years and Elvis: Past, Present & Future, a 200,000sq ft, $45m entertainment complex is due to open next spring.

Follow @patriddell

Published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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