Prince reigned as one of music’s most iconic and mysterious figures for decades. Known for his occasionally bizarre antics, utterly unique musical style, and wild, flamboyant personal style, it should come as no surprise that his home was equally impressive. His unique Minnesota abode, Paisley Place, was similarly legendary, with few seeing the interior and none sharing any juicy details. After the singer’s untimely death, Paisley Park finally became open to the public, revealing the singer’s hybrid home and recording studio’s unusual beauty. Read on for 30 glimpses inside Prince’s luxurious Paisley Park.
Paisley Park is named after one of Prince’s songs.
Paisley Park takes its name from Prince’s own songs, released in 1985 by him and his band The Revolution. It was one of the first singles released from the album Around the World in a Day. The song was recorded only three months after the release of Purple Rain, one of the most iconic high points in the singer’s career. He was indeed at his pinnacle during this period when the construction of Paisley Park began.
Purple Rain, which features the incredibly famous Prince song of the same name, was filmed in 1983. This same year saw the construction of Paisley Park, a recording studio and home hybrid that shared a name with both a Prince song and the name of his recording label. Designed by an unknown young architect, the compound was a unique blend of personal home and luxurious artist space complete with a recording studio and massive sound stage and rehearsal area. The house was designed to accommodate Prince’s tireless work ethic.
It was meant to be a commercial recording facility.
The original concept of Paisley Park was to be a commercial recording facility for Prince’s personal record label, also called Paisley Park. Many notable artists recorded at least one track at the facility, and Prince produced his own label’s artists at the studio. In 1994, amid a significant feud with Warner Brothers Records, Warner Brothers ended their distribution deal for Paisley Park albums, effectively shutting down his studio. After the record label’s failure, Prince continued to live in Paisley Park and produce his own music from home.
While it is relatively unassuming from the outside, Paisley Park is a massive complex. Coming in at over 55,000 square feet, it is roughly the size of a large grocery store inside. It sits on a large acreage in Chanhassen, Minnesota, a suburb of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The complex includes everything Prince needed for his lifestyle, including a luxurious recording studio, a massive sound stage and rehearsal area, and offices for his now-defunct record label Paisley Park, which shared a name with the home.
While $10 million may not seem like a great deal for a vast complex now, in 1983, it was a great deal of money, especially with the relatively low construction costs in Minnesota versus somewhere like Los Angeles or New York City. In today’s money, the construction cost almost $25 million and would still be a relative bargain given the cheapness of construction in Minnesota. Much of the money likely went to the impressive professional recording studio and the fact that every single room was wired to be ready for surround sound.
Chanhassen, Minnesota, is a relatively unassuming suburb of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. It’s a small suburb in Carver County, well outside the Hennepin-Ramsey center of the Twin Cities, and even now only has a population of around 23,000 residents. In his heyday, Prince could genuinely have built a home and resided anywhere he wished, but his love for his stomping grounds of Minneapolis kept him in the Twin Cities metro. Chanhassen is noteworthy for also being the home of the Temple of Eck, the center of a religion founded by Paul Twitchell in 1965.
It would be quite tricky to differentiate Paisley Park from several 1980s commercial complexes from the outside. The facility was constructed with glass and metal squares, looking almost like something out of a Minecraft build. While the building is often illuminated with bright purple lights at night, by day, it would blend into any suburban office park. The only real hint that something more unusual resides within is the glass pyramids that provide pops of whimsy to the otherwise austere exterior. However, once passing the front doors, it would become immediately apparent that you were no longer in Kansas (or in this case, Chanhassen, Minnesota).
While it may seem incredibly extravagant to us mere mortals, it actually made a great deal of sense for a professional musician known for elaborate stage tours to have a fully functional sound stage at hand for testing out new ideas, rehearsing, and so on. The sound stage also occasionally functioned to host lavish parties thrown by the eccentric artist known for his Paisley Park After Dark bashes. Nowadays, the sound stage can be rented for private events, including weddings and parties, allowing guests to experience a touch of Prince’s magic.
Prince was long known to be a bit difficult to work with, reportedly with very high demands and an intense schedule. The artist honestly had an insatiable need to create, and he would often part ways with those who weren’t able or willing to work as tirelessly as him. It is unsurprising, then, that Paisley Park is positively littered with beds. The complex was designed in such a way that Prince could burn the midnight oil to record a new song or rehearse a new set and be able to go just a room away and find a comfy bed to nap in before his next jam session.
Prince was born and raised in Minneapolis and occasionally referenced the area in his songs. A character in Purple Rain even attempts to purify herself in Lake Minnetonka’s waters, a popular tourist attraction in the area. This endless love for Minneapolis and the surrounding area is what drove Prince to build Paisley Park there. Thanks to his money and fame, Prince truly could have lived anywhere in the entire world, so it is incredibly endearing that he chose the unassuming suburb of Chanhassen in the relatively bland metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The one exterior hint of the glamour and luxury that lie within Paisley Park’s massive complex is the handful of glass pyramids scattered throughout the building’s roof to allow in sunlight. Prince was reportedly an enormous fan of pyramids and ancient Egyptian history, which led to the pyramids’ inclusion. Upon Prince’s death, his bookshelf included numerous books on ancient Egyptian mythology, history, and lore, providing further clarity on why the unusual glass pyramids were included in the otherwise quite simple industrial metallic construction of the building.
The interior was famously secret during his lifetime.
Prince was a notoriously private person. He rarely commented on his personal life, romance, or anything else. Even after he reportedly lost a child, he downplayed Oprah’s question and moved the conversation to more impersonal realms. Unsurprisingly, those admitted to Paisley Park shared nothing about what they saw inside during the artist’s lifetime. Guests reportedly were asked to surrender their phones and other recording devices during their stay and were presumably requested not to share anything about the reclusive artist’s digs.
A 23-year-old, brand new architect designed Paisley Park.
Imagine being a no-name 23-year-old architect just embarking on your professional career and being contracted by none other than Prince himself, at the height of his stardom, to design a $10 million project that included non-traditional items like a 12,000 square foot sound stage and a professional-grade recording studio. As unlikely as it sounds, this is precisely what happened to Bret Theony. To add an extra layer of challenge, Prince could not read blueprints and was not interested in learning to do so, so Thoeny had to bring architectural models from California to Minnesota for his review and approval.
For a man whose greatest hits include a track titled “When Doves Cry,” it is only fitting that his palatial home does, in fact, have some live doves. The artist kept two doves, named Majesty and Divinity, in the entry foyer of Paisley Park. On a somber note, Prince’s sister Tyka reported that the two doves stopped cooing after the artist’s death and only began singing again when his music was played in their area. The male dove of the duo, Majesty, has also died since the singer’s death.
The NPG music club was a private nightclub venue within Paisley Park that allowed concertgoers to get an up-close, intimate experience of the artist’s music and stage presence. The club took its name from Prince’s band, the New Power Generation, and was also the name of Prince’s website in the mid-2000s. Now, the music club serves as a private venue for events and allows guests to recapture a bit of the magic of seeing Prince perform in such an intimate venue.
Kevin Smith worked there on an unreleased documentary!
Kevin Smith, the noted filmmaker behind titles like Clerks and the Jay and Silent Bob franchise, worked closely with Prince and filming a documentary about him within Paisley Park that was never released. After Prince’s death, Smith shared the bizarre experience of working on the documentary at the singer’s request. After converting to the Jehovah’s Witness faith, Prince wanted to release an album called The Rainbow Children centered on faith and asked Smith to film a documentary about religion and the reaction to the album. Smith was not paid, and after a week of filming, he was kicked out without so much as a goodbye.
Prince was a highly spiritual and eventually religious person. Part of his spirituality included having a galaxy room designed at Paisley Park for the musician to meditate within and relax. In truly 80s fashion, the room has a light set-up that casts galaxy-like bright lights on the walls. The place is also outfitted with attractive asymmetrical furniture, purple ceiling lights, and various instruments that should help the creative mood strike while relaxing. Also, on-trend for its construction era is the science fiction-like modernity of the room with curved lines and recessed ceilings.
While Prince was widely famed for his rather lusty and erotic songs and performances, the singer himself converted to a notoriously strict and austere religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, in 2001. The bassist of Sly and the Family Stone, Larry Graham, studied with Prince for years before eventually converting the artist. A devout practitioner who did, in fact, participate in evangelism as part of the faith’s commitment to witnessing dedicated an entire room in his home, the knowledge room, to his religion.
Graceland is the famous home, turned museum, and tourist attraction of rocker Elvis Presley. When Prince died, many wondered what would happen to the notoriously reclusive artist’s home. While his wishes were unclear, his family gave the blessing to turn over the operations of Paisley Park to Graceland Holdings, the company that operates Elvis’ former home. Unsurprisingly, given Graceland’s nature, Paisley Park is now open to the public for tours and even private rentals for events like weddings. However, in deference to the singer’s privacy, recording devices are still not allowed, and the upstairs living quarters are off-limits.
There is a dome-shaped outbuilding on the property.
One of the more unique features of the Paisley Park compound is the strange rounded dome outbuilding just off the main compound. Looking almost like a telescope tower, the building is reportedly a covered parking garage and storage area. Due to his intensely private nature, rumors continue to abound about the nature of the outbuilding. It was widely believed, for a time, that the building was the actual living space of Prince. Others argued it was intended to be a restaurant.
One of the stranger incidents in Prince’s full life of bizarre antics is the time Kesha once trespassed into Paisley Park to deliver a demo tape. In an interview, the young songstress told Jimmy Fallon that she paid a gardener to let her in and saw Prince himself sitting in a chair playing the guitar. She said Prince never spoke to her, and she put the CD down on a table and left the room before being apprehended and thrown out by a security guard. Kesha further stated that, regardless of her later fame, she never heard from the Purple One but had fond memories of sneaking into his home.
Prince loved Paisley Park, his home for 30 years, so much, his ashes now lie in a miniature replica of the building, mounted within the building itself. In addition to the singer’s remains, it also contains a model of his famous purple Yamaha piano. The model also lights up, with purple lights, of course, and can be viewed during tours of the facility. The incredibly unique urn was 3D printed by a company specializing in unique customized urns and other vessels for cremated human remains. Prince’s sister, Tyka, teamed up with Foreverence to create the one-of-a-kind urn.
Prince beat Michael Jackson at ping-pong during a visit!
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during this legendary match-up. What could possibly be more iconic than two of pop music’s greatest legends, Prince and Michael Jackson, doing something as ordinary as playing a game of ping-pong? Prince reportedly not only beat Michael but even went so far as to taunt him for his lack of skill. Despite his slight and slender frame, Prince was apparently excellent at both ping-pong and basketball and highly competitive at both.
Prince was good at basketball and played it at Paisley Park.
If you have ever seen the Chappelle Show skits that feature a trash-talking Prince playing basketball, you may have wondered where that idea came from. It turns out that the inspiration came from Prince’s personality and behavior himself. As evidenced by his trash-talking Michael Jackson during a friendly game of ping-pong, Prince continued to be fiercely competitive. Not only did Prince possess skill in basketball, but he also had a court inside Paisley Park and played frequently. Whether or not he ever rubbed his platform boots all over Charlie Murphy’s sofa is another question entirely.
Prince’s “Love Symbol #2” was why he was called “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Consequence of Sound[/caption]
His love symbol #2 graces the front entryway floor.
One of Prince’s more interesting phases as an artist came when he eschewed the name Prince. Instead, he called himself “Love Symbol #2”. So many commonly referred to him as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” The stylized, unique Love Symbol #2 became immortalized in a renovation to Paisley Park, which saw the symbol quite literally cemented into the flooring of the entry foyer. The emblem, which evokes both the Venus and Mars gender symbols, is tiled in black on the floor with a white background, in a stark tribute to that exceptionally creative phase of the musician’s career.
Purple is, unsurprisingly, a running theme throughout the house.
Prince and the color purple are really quite inseparable. In addition to the film and song Purple Rain, the singer also frequently wore flamboyant, wild outfits in various shades of purple. He commissioned a famous purple Yamaha custom-made piano, now memorialized inside the urn that holds his ashes. Purple is also a running theme in Paisley Park, ranging from the exterior lights that make the entire compound glow purple at night to purple furnishings and accents throughout the home. Many of his iconic purple outfits are on display, and purple furniture and decor, especially in velvet fabrics, appear throughout the space.
Due in part to his love of privacy and his desire to make a truly well-insulated and professional recording studio environment, Paisley Park has very few windows. The majority of the inside is reportedly thus quite disorienting, with no sunlight or external landmarks to orient one’s sense of direction. In a rather cavelike experience, the complex is full of hallways that lead to large, lush rooms with common visual elements that can make one feel quite lost. No doubt, for someone who valued secrecy and privacy, this disorienting effect was just another benefit to help maintain his privacy. It’s hard to tell secrets about a house that confused you!
What could be more heavenly than a dedicated musician than to have every single room in your home wired for high-definition sound? With a price tag of $10 million, it’s no surprise that Prince splurged on this feature for Paisley Park. No matter where he went in his home, he could pipe in beautiful high-quality audio to listen to his own music or whatever else inspired him at the moment. Reportedly, his own pet doves stopped cooing after his death and only began singing again after the foyer where they lived began playing his music over the speakers.
Suppose you ever happen to find yourself near Chanhassen, Minnesota. In that case, you can now tour the publicly viewable parts of Prince’s Paisley Park yourself, thanks to the work of Graceland Holdings, the managers of Elvis’ famous former home. For only $38.50, the price of a general admission ticket, you can view the complex’s main floor, including the sound stage and private NPG music club where Prince used to host incredibly intimate small concerts. The tour is reported to run around 70 minutes, so you likely see a great deal of the massive, unique home. If you’re willing to spend a little more money and time, there are additional tour levels with added “VIP” benefits and perks!
In a fitting tribute to the notoriously reclusive and private star, there are still large portions of Paisley Park that are off-limits to the media and ticket-buying visitors. He created the main floor originally as a commercial recording studio. Now, it is widely available for a reasonably priced admission ticket. However, the upstairs where Prince lived remains secret. It is surprising at Prince’s family giving Graceland Holdings access to the property, given Prince’s privacy. But the tour guides are reportedly very respectful of his legacy and desire for privacy, banning recording devices and enforcing off-limit areas.
Many of Prince’s iconic, custom-made stage costumes are on display in Paisley Park on mannequins. Image his sparkling bell-bottom pants, suede boots, and ruffled shirt – all in a flaming cherry red! Who else could wear that and pull it off? Among the other outfits are costumes with historical importance, like the long purple coat from Purple Rain. Other clothes and accessories are wrapped in special tissue paper and packed away with their original sketches. In fact, there was a mannequin made in Prince’s size because he refused to do fittings!
After Prince’s death, archivists discovered handwritten notebooks, scribbles on the backs of envelopes, and scraps of paper for notes across his career like lyrics from his first album or his movie, Purple Rain. They also found his Walkman cassette player, which he used to record himself. Each pair of shoes he owned had a three-inch heel, including his flip-flops and tennis shoes. He had suitcases full of makeup, and every room in Paisley Park was full of candles in every shape, size, and smell. They found over 120 guitars in the basement, even though many of them didn’t even work!
And all that’s without mentioning the underground bank vault of music he left behind. One thing Prince didn’t own, however: leisure wear. “Prince didn’t seem to have any at-home wear,” Marchese told the Times. “Prince was always Prince.” Then again, would you have expected any different?
Prince left behind an underground bank vault of music. He didn’t want to give the recording companies the best stuff, as he indicated in one interview, so he saved much of his work for himself. At last check, the vault housed 385 unreleased, finished recordings. The safe is locked in a trophy room with awards, gold records, Grammys, and an Oscar! Scarves hang from the ceiling, and the floor is covered in flower petals.
He had a major-award winning career that spanned decades.
He was nominated for a whopping 38 Grammy Awards over the years, including the 2017 nomination, though he only won seven of them. 1985 was a lucky year for Prince; he won three awards! Two were for Purple Rain, and the third was Best R&B song “I Feel For You.” He won again two years later, but it would be another 18 years before his next Grammy win. In 2008, his album ‘1999’ was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2011, Purple Rain was added to that list, and in 2017, Sign O the Times was added to that as well.
Mayte Garcia met Prince when she was 16. She snuck his people a video of her dancing, and Prince invited her to work for him as a dancer. When she turned 19, their relationship turned romantic, and they married on Valentine’s Day in 1996. They had a son together in October of that year, but he tragically passed away six days later. The pair divorced in 2000. In 2001, Prince married Manuela Testolini, though they split up in 2006. He then dated Bria Valente until around 2008, though they continued to record music together afterward.
Prince’s estate is valued between $200 – $300 million, but he did not leave a will behind despite his great success and wealth. This notion has left his heirs struggling to settle his estate after his untimely demise nearly three years later. Current estimates on the legal bills hover around $10 million, while taxes are estimated to be about 40% for the federal government and another 16% for state taxes.
Paisley Park houses two 48-track recording studios, a 24-track studio, a twelve-thousand-foot soundstage, a rehearsal hall, a dance hall, editing studios, and many offices, making it a perfect place for a recording artist. The studios offer a range of multimedia production suites. Many major musicians took advantage of Paisley Park’s significant resources – names no doubt you’ll recognize like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Kool, and the Gang. Patti LaBelle, and of course, Prince himself!
Paisley Park’s domain name was the source of some contention.
In December 2004, Paisley Park Enterprises had to submit a complaint to the National Arbitration Forum about the domain name “paisleyparkstudios.com.” Network Solutions Inc. had registered the domain name in 2003 but had not used it since, so the reviewing panel concluded that it was evidence of a bad faith registration. In February 2005, the domain was transferred back to Paisley Park Enterprises.
Prince was only truly happy when he was freed from his contract with Warner Brothers.
The musician entered into a contract with Warner Brothers at age 18 that required him to release an album every eighteen months. He felt that this stifled his creativity, as he “could release a record every seven months” due to his prolific recording schedule. In 1996, eighteen years after his initial signing, Prince was finally released from the label after many protests, like writing “SLAVE” on his cheek at concerts and changing his name legally to a nameless symbol that became known as “Love Symbol #2”, creating “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” In Prince’s mind, this indicated that any music released subsequently was not the property of Warner Brothers.
Prince had several alter-egos for different reasons.
In an interview with Oprah, Prince told her he had “another person” inside him that created music under different aliases. Alexander Nevermind is one pseudonym he used to write songs for artists outside of Minneapolis, like “Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton. Camille, likely Prince’s most famous alter-ego, can be heard on vocals in songs like “U Got the Look,” “Housequake,” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” Other alter-egos included Jamie Starr, Christopher, Joey Coco, Tora Tora, and Gemini, though there are likely many more we do not know about.