Entertainment

How to see Minneapolis through Prince's eyes

There's now a guided bus tour of his key locations

(CNN) - Prince was more than a pop star. He was the living embodiment of the music itself; a genre-defying, gender-bending master who could play guitar like Hendrix, out dress Madonna and get down with the spirit of James Brown.

But now he's gone. One year ago, on April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in his Minneapolis mansion.

A local boy, he grew up, lived and died in his hometown and the echo of his presence remains.

Unsurprisingly given his fame and impact on his hometown, there's now a guided bus tour of the Purple One's key locations in the city. (More information: Explore Minnesota / Minneapolis, City by Nature)

Here's how to see Minneapolis through Prince's eyes.

The Capri Theatre

It may be in a rundown part of town today, but it was here in the Capri Theater, just a few blocks from where he grew up, that Prince's legend began.

It was January 1979, he was 18 years old and he'd just recorded his first album "For You," in which he played every single instrument -- 27 of them in total. But this was the first time it all came together live.

There were pyrotechnics, there were sound problems, but all anyone seems to remember was a flamboyant, diminutive figure somehow filling the entire room with energy.

Local music critic Jon Bream, who saw the show, wrote: "He was cool, he was cocky, and he was sexy." A purple future lay ahead.

The Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis; +1 612 643 2024

First Avenue

The outside walls of this legendary Minneapolis venue, where Prince performed many times -- sometimes announced, mostly by surprise -- are covered in silver stars with the names of past performers.

Now one is gold, filled in the night of his death by an anonymous fan. It's a fitting tribute.

Prince shot much of his Oscar-winning movie "Purple Rain" inside.

Walk through the doors and you can almost sense his presence, backlit, in white leather, smoke all around, cloud guitar in hand, ready to play. Just like the movie.

First Avenue, corner of First Avenue & 7th Street, Minneapolis; +1 612 332 1775

Purple Rain House

A year before his death, Prince bought the house featured in the movie "Purple Rain" -- a three-bed, barn-style residential in southwest Minneapolis.

"The Kid" may have grown up here in the film, but don't expect to see where he made out with Apollonia.

The house, not to be confused with Prince's real-life Purple House in Chanhassen, where he lived in the early 80s but had bulldozed after moving, was only used for exterior shots.

Today it has an eerie presence, dilapidated and empty, in an otherwise normal residential street, with flowers and purple candles left like an altar at its steps.

Purple Rain House, 3420 Snelling Avenue, Minneapolis.

Dakota Jazz Club

This iconic live music and dinner club, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, was one of Prince's favorite hangouts.

He had his own table on the second floor, where he could sneak in unobserved to watch shows and even played here too: using the tiny stage to warm up for a 2013 tour in front of just 350 lucky locals.

The Raspberry Beret Bellini is fresh, delicious and made in his honor.

Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; +1 612 332 5299 (Box Office) / +1 612 332 1010 (Dinner Reservations)

Electric Fetus

A Minneapolis bastion of counter-culture spirit since 1968, the Electric Fetus, an Aladdin's cave of independent music, rare vinyl and quirky left-of-center gifts, is where Prince went to buy his music.

"He had a golden aura," one sales assistant says, describing those visits. "He floated, he didn't walk."

And he was loyal, too. His last album "Hit n Run Phase Two" was released worldwide exclusively through this tiny store, and he would often allow them to stock his music weeks before its official release.

Electric Fetus, 2000 4th Avenue South, Minneapolis; + 1 612 870 9300

Paisley Park

Prince may have left his mark throughout the city, but it's at his former home, Paisley Park, in the suburbs of Chanhassen, where his presence is most keenly felt. The estate has been offering tours since last November -- the first time fans have been able to see inside his inner sanctum.

For a man known to wear bottomless yellow onesies, first impressions are surprising: a windowless white-panel box on the edge of a busy motorway, more like a secret government research facility than a pop star's crib.

But walk through the doors of the 65,000-square-foot wildly eccentric and predominantly purple mansion -- which includes a full Hollywood-style soundstage, four recording studios and a nightclub -- and it all makes sense.

Paisley Park, 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The Atrium

The tour begins at the end, in the atrium, where his ashes are kept in a miniaturized version of his home.

Blue-sky walls with airbrush-painted clouds, a giant mural of his eyes with a burst of godlike light beaming down and real life doves that coo, but don't cry, in a cage above.

His star is everywhere: see-through pearl-string stage costumes with chain-mail veils, his legendary Hohner "MadCat" Telecaster guitar, lyrics penned in neat cursive in a faded notebook.

But it's the homely touches, which surround the room, that are most interesting: his golden office, where he would mentor younger acts; the diner-style kitchen, where he would eat pancakes and watch basketball; an entire room decked out in UV stars like a purple nebula, where he would write songs and meditate.

He lived as he played: flamboyant, eccentric and self-assured.

Studio A & B

Prince's vision for Paisley Park was to unite his life and his music, he could literally plug in and record just about anywhere he pleased. But it was in the famous Studio B where the magic happened.

Through the recording-booth glass, there's a gold-framed photograph of his father, John Nelson, next to the mixing desk where "Sign O' The Times" was put to record.

Outside, the ping pong table where he would relax between takes (he was a master and once destroyed his pop rival Michael Jackson in a game).

Studio A, nearby, is the home of his last recorded work. Stand in the middle of the room and the sound washes over in perfect clarity, trademark Prince funk with a touch of jazz, but no vocals, he never got that far.

A microphone stand bent down towards his empty chair, unfinished lyrics on the music stand by its side.

Sound Stage & NPG Music Club

The enormous 12,400-square-foot sound stage, where "Graffiti Bridge" and "Sign O' The Times" were filmed, now houses displays of every Prince era: from "Purple Rain" and the New Power Generation to 3RDEYEGIRL and his last incarnation, the stripped back "Piano and a Microphone" shows.

Annexed next door is his private NPG Music Club, with purple nook sofas, psychedelic projections and an enormous heart-shaped mirror on the floor.

Prince was famous for throwing impromptu late-night parties here, inviting local fans on a first-come, first-served basis, and now the tradition is continuing with a newly announced series of "After Dark" celebrations and late-night concert screenings.

"Life is just a party," Prince sang. "And parties weren't meant to last." This one, it seems, isn't quite over yet.

Purple Rain Room

Once used for dance rehearsals, the Purple Rain room, as it's now called, features a display of his most treasured memorabilia from the film: the purple motorbike, the cloud guitar, the little purple piano that he danced on top of.

But to truly appreciate the greatness of that song, pause at the end of the tour to watch a loop of his 2007 Super Bowl performance of it, widely considered the greatest half-time show in history.

Just before he was due on stage a torrential rainstorm broke outside, but when asked if he wanted to delay the show he replied: "Can you make it rain harder?" The result is one of the hottest, most soaking-wet guitar solos ever played.

Graffiti Bridge Room

Treasures from his less successful second foray into film with "Graffiti Bridge," as well as the movie "Under a Cherry Moon," in which he played a gigolo swindling rich French women, are on display here.

This room was always envisioned by Prince as part of a museum of his work and art, but it's what's nearby that is perhaps more revealing.

In a backroom corridor, there is a mural showing Prince emerging godlike from a lotus flower, arms outstretched either side.

To the right are his influences; to the left, the people he has in turn influenced. It's a good metaphor for who he was. Lenny Kravitz said it best: "He was a vessel -- an instrument himself."

Memorial Fence

After his death, tributes from around the world were pinned to the fence that surrounds Paisley Park. The tour ends with a revolving display of some of the best.

There are hand- painted canvases, poems and little porcelain doves, but most of all just simple thanks. "Your music is the soundtrack of my best memories," reads one. Perhaps those memories aren't quite finished yet.

Underneath Paisley Park is a vault containing hundreds of hours of unreleased music. Almost no one has seen inside. But when asked in an interview what it might contain, his answer was cocky, tantalizing and pure Prince: the future.


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