Prince leaves lasting legacy

Music superstar dies in Paisley Park at age 57 causing the Twin Cities to go purple.


Melody Yabandith

Thousands gathered at First Avenue & 7th St Entry to mourn the loss of Prince on Thursday, April 21. The club hosted an all-night dance party to honor the music legend.

Paul Patane, A&E Editor

Thousands of grieving mourners have flocked to First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis and to Prince’s Paisley Park studio and residence in Chanhassen since his tragic death last Thursday, April 21.

Crowds poured into the streets of Minneapolis outside First Avenue Thursday night to celebrate the Purple One with a dance party and celebration, while many left behind flowers and other gifts at his star on the club’s exterior. With one night not being enough to mourn the beloved Minnesotan, First Avenue went on to host additional all-night dance parties throughout the weekend.

In Chanhassen, police blocked off portions of Highway 5 to control traffic along Audubon Road as mourners gathered like pilgrims, walking through tunnels under the highway and climbing the adjacent hill to see Prince Rogers Nelson’s home. For several days, Paisley Park’s fences were lined with guitars, paintings, tens of thousands of flowers (mostly purple), letters, candles and purple balloons.

At first, it was reported that there had been a fatality in Paisley Park and speculation broke out as to who the deceased may be, if not Prince. For Hamline student Mckinley Ciepielinski (‘16), Prince’s cousin, the news hit especially hard once the music icon’s death was confirmed.

“The first person to tell me that it was Prince who had died was my younger sister. I immediately told her that that was bullshit and that she must have been mistaken,” Ciepielinski said. “There was around 20 minutes where I just sat in complete silence, trying to absorb the information that my cousin had just died. I couldn’t do it, so I walked into my living room, turned on some of his music and the floodgates just opened.”

Throughout the Twin Cities, bridges and buildings were lit purple after the shocking news broke. While many structures were purple only on Thursday night, other spots like the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis stayed lit throughout the weekend. Despite the Twins being out of town, officials at Target Field took a photo of the vacant stadium after lighting it purple—it trended globally with hundreds of thousands of retweets and Facebook shares.

Downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, April 21. Before First Avenue & 7th St Entry hosted an all-night dance party a massive block party filled the streets.
Photo by Chris Juhn for Minnesota Public Radio. Used with permission.
Downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, April 21. Before First Avenue & 7th St Entry hosted an all-night dance party a massive block party filled the streets.

Outside of Minnesota, other communities had their own way of honoring Prince. Both Niagara Falls and the Eiffel Tower, among other places, were lit purplehonoring the music legend.

“I think it is amazingly beautiful and shows just how much he touched the world. There were places outside of the U.S. that were painted purple, just for Prince. To know that my cousin had reached so farand so muchand had so many fans that were just destroyed by the fact that he was no longer among us made me both happy and more depressed, all at the same time,” Ciepielinski said.

Mourning Prince has extended beyond visiting the places he lived at or frequented, and the Cities being lit purple. Websites including have sold out of every Prince album, free public viewings of “Purple Rain” have been conducted throughout the Cities and AMC Theaters has even brought the 1984 classic film back to theaters for a brief period, nationally.

Jack Skaj (‘17), a musician on campus and Prince fan, joined the enormous crowd outside First Avenue Thursday night.

“Everybody was outside. We just kind of walked aroundeverybody was talking,” Skaj said. “A couple small groups around were singing some Prince songs and one guy had those buckets he was playing as drums. A couple other guys were singing. It was a good time.”

On the radio, 89.3, “The Current,” played the musician’s entire published catalogue, which took approximately 26 hours. “Go 96.3” also played Prince’s music exclusively for an extended period of time. Nationally, MTV played “Purple Rain” and Prince music videos last Thursday.

While people all over the world are saddened by Prince’s death, Minnesotans have had to say goodbye to one of their own. He was a good neighbor who never left town, despite all his accomplishments and international fame. As a musician, songwriter, producer and mentor, Prince helped and championed musicians such as Madonna, Morris Day and Judith Hillbut his contributions to Minneapolis sound and the local music scene dating back to the late 1970s can’t be quantified.

In 1984, the rising superstar put the Twin Cities music scene on the map with the film “Purple Rain,” showing an edgy and gritty side to Minneapolis and its music through the lens of the Purple One as he rode around on his motorcyclewith his guitar and girlfriendwhile poking fun at Morris Day and The Time. The film brought the spotlight to the Cities and First Avenue in particular, helping to make the club a top venue almost every act wants to play to this day.

Skaj grew up appreciating Prince’s early work, including “Purple Rain,” and how the musician’s work could resonate with everyone while helping establish Minneapolis sound.

“He had the Minneapolis sound and it was something you could relate to. All his songs were relatable,” Skaj said. “Prince has always been a big influence on me. He was a complete musician.”

Having an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, seven Grammys and being a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Prince is one of the most successful musicians of all-time. With 39 albums on the stands that sold well over 100 million copies before his death, he leaves behind a diverse catalogue that defies genre classification.

In addition to awards and sales, Prince performed an unforgettable Super Bowl halftime show in 2007, headlined at Coachella in 2008 and publicly fought against Warner Bros. Records for fairness in an effort to protect his intellectual property.

What’s to come of Paisley Park, Prince’s unreleased music, the fate of his catalogue or even the exact cause of death will play out in the coming weeks. However, one thing is certain: Minnesotans everywhere are saddened by the star’s tragic death and they will continue to find ways to mourn and pay their respects to the icon they loved.

As a musician, Skaj admired Prince for being an elite musician with many talents, having played a diverse assortment of instruments and for his ability to write, direct and arrange his work.

“There will always be a place for Prince in Minnesota,” Skaj said. “Prince’s sound is never going to die—[it’s] very carnal, very sexy.”

Ciepielinski suggests his cousin’s legacy will have an indefinite impact on society.

“His legacy is forever going to be pushing everything beyond comprehension,” Ciepielinski said. “Moving music and life in new directions that transcend what we thought were possiblebreaking boundaries where thought has stagnated and at all times being the very best version of ourselves.”