Paisley Park, where Prince lived and worked, will welcome back a select 1,400 fans Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of his death from inside his creative sanctuary.
The sprawling studio’s atrium will be opened to those who rushed for one of the free reservations, while other fans can leave flowers and mementos in front of a statue erected outside the front doors in the shape of his famous purple Love Symbol.
A custom-made ceramic urn shaped like Paisley Park with Prince’s symbol on top was originally placed in the middle of the atrium when the pop legend’s 65,000-square-foot studio in suburban Minneapolis first opened as a museum in October 2016. At the request of Prince’s family, the ashes were moved to a less prominent spot in the atrium and eventually removed entirely from public view, disappointing the superstar’s legions of fans.
Fans and reporters showing up to Paisley Park posted about their experience on Twitter.
“The crowd at Paisley Park is small, but sombre. Some have placed flowers in front of the Love Symbol statue, while others write messages to Prince on the tables outside,” commented reporter Audrey Kennedy.
“There are no photos allowed inside, but when I went in, two women were crying in front of Prince’s ashes, which are in a miniature replica of Paisley Park. One asked the guard: ‘How do you guys do this every day?,’” she continued.
She also added: “The fence around Paisley Park is covered in mementos. A man with his daughter said he took her out of school for the day to be at the Prince memorial – he hasn’t called the school because ‘I’m not sure if this counts as an excused absence.’”
This is the first time the urn has returned to the atrium for display to the public.
Prince died on 21 April, 2016, of an accidental fentanyl overdose at age 57, shocking fans and setting off waves of grief around the world. Since then, Paisley Park was turned into a museum and paid tours were created. Tours were shut down for the day to mark the fifth anniversary.
“We celebrate his life and legacy every day at Paisley Park, a place that Prince wanted to share with the world,” Paisley Park Executive Director Alan Seiffert said in a statement. “So, on this day especially, we acknowledge the incredible force and inspiration Prince is in people’s lives and open up our doors for them to pay their respects.”
Paisley Park will also post an online memorial at Paisleypark.com.
Pepe Willie, Prince’s uncle and an early music mentor, still tears up when he thinks of the prolific “Purple Rain” performer.
“It was devastating,” he recently told The Associated Press of the moment he learned the news. “I’m standing in the living room with my underwear on watching the TV. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t do anything. I was just in so much shock. It was unbelievable.”
Known as the “godfather of the Minneapolis sound,” Willie met Prince as a young musical prodigy after marrying his aunt. The pair developed a bond through music, with Prince soaking up his knowledge about the music business and playing for Willie in a recording studio.
“I cried for him so hard,” Willie said. “I didn’t even cry at my father’s funeral.”