Archives & Manuscripts

Prince’s Paisley Archives

Response to article and interview

On April 21, 2016, Prince died at Paisley Park, his complex outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Almost immediately, his legacy was caught in the crossfire of competing interests: his family, his record company, his friends, and his fans–not to mention Prince’s own wishes, which were never set down in a will–all had a stake in his estate. In the end, the Carver County courts administered the estate, then Graceland Holdings, and then the estate was granted autonomous control, opening up Paisley Park as a museum and releasing material from Prince’s creative vault.

A few months before his death, Prince had begun working on a memoir with writer Dan Piepenbring. Prince’s death seemed to signal the death of the memoir project as well, but once some of the dust had settled, Piepenbring gained access to the complex. The materials he found there enabled him to move forward with the book, which was released on October 29. In a series of interviews promoting the book, Piepenbring talked about the experience of being in Paisley Park. “There’s nothing that compares with Prince being there when he was alive,” Piepenbring said. “There used to be a sense of a flame being guarded.”

Even so, in the months following Prince’s death, Paisley Park functioned as a kind of spatial archives: an untouched, unaltered space that held all the ephemera and debris of Prince’s personal and creative life. “The sheer quantity of paper was surprising,” noted Piepenbring. “There was no real method to the madness. In one room you’d find something from 1979, and within arm’s reach there’d be something from 2002.”

It was, in a sense, the ultimate original order.

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