Prince would have celebrated his 65th birthday this week, and the annual celebration at his Paisley Park studio and soundstage kicked off near Minneapolis on Thursday.
The four-day celebration includes appearances by Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D., Chaka Khan and DJ D-Nice, who’ll spin a Friday night party. DJ Rashida who worked with Prince for years will spin a Saturday night party that will also be dedicated to Tina Turner.
“Prince was and remains the greatest artist of all time,” longtime Prince lawyer Londell McMillan said. He and his partner Charles Spicer have a vested interest in the continued success of Prince’s legacy as they control a portion of the now-settled estate. “We are honored to gather yet again to celebrate Prince and his legacy at Paisley Park this year with many who knew him up close or adored him from afar.”
Prince died of an accidental overdose at Paisley Park in 2016. This makes the seventh year since his passing, and the panels and activities scheduled over the four-day event take note of the significance of the number in his life.
Doug E. Fresh and Chuck D. are expected to discuss Prince’s strong ties to hip-hop (Doug was once part of Prince’s band The New Power Generation), and Chaka will talk about their longtime relationship and the 25th anniversary of her album Come 2 My House, which she recorded on Paisley Park Records.
VIPs started Thursday with some gems – they heard 10 songs from the vault that were not just previously unreleased, they hadn’t made their way to bootlegs.
Prince was one of the most bootlegged artists of his era, with recordings from his legendary vault making their way to collectors and ultimately to YouTube after his passing. (Prince famously didn’t allow his work on streaming services, as he believed that the artists were grossly underpaid when their music was streamed.)
VIP attendees were slotted into two tracks Diamond and Pearl and one saw concert footage from the last show on the Parade tour in Yokohama, Japan in 1986 while others heard the tracks and then they were switched.
Fans have been clamoring for new releases since the estate settled earlier this year. A once-planned Netflix doc directed by Oscar winner Eric Edelman has either stalled or hasn’t been completed as nothing new has been heard about it in a while.
(Same, ironically enough with a Thriller doc that was actually screened but has seemingly disappeared.) The screening of “new” footage and music goes a long way to appeasing that crowd and justifying the more than $1,000 VIP attendance cost.
This is the fourth celebration held since Prince’s death. He hosted celebrations at Paisley in 2000 and 2001 and a third in 2002 he called Xenophobia, where he brought fans, scholars, artists and other creatives together.
Minneapolis-based band The Sounds of Blackness, Stokley Williams, the former Mint Condition frontman who is now solo, and longtime Prince band member Shelby J are all scheduled to perform during the four-day event.
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