On This Day in 1987: Paisley Park Studios Opens
30 years ago today, Paisley Park Studios opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, giving Prince a place to lay down whatever tracks he wanted, whether he had any intention of actually releasing them or not. Prince wasn’t the only one who recorded there, of course: plenty of other songs and albums were constructed within the studio’s hallowed halls, ranging from huge hits to cult favorites. We’ve compiled a list of five such songs, and you may be surprised by some of the names and some of the songs with ties to Paisley Park.
1. Fine Young Cannibals, “She Drives Me Crazy” (1989): In the process of putting together their sophomore album, THE RAW AND THE COOKED, the trio hooked up with David Z, a recurring Prince collaborator, and recorded three tracks at Paisley Park, including this #1 hit.
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2. Bob Mould, “See a Little Light” (1989): Given that Mould had been a member of one of Minneapolis’s highest-profile alt-rock bands, Husker Du, it’s not entirely surprising that he would’ve ended up recording at Paisley Park at some point. Mould laid down the basic tracks for his solo debut, WORKBOOK, at Paisley Park, and although he never actually encountered Prince during the course of his sessions, Mould revealed in an interview with VICE that he saw plenty of traces of His Royal Badness.
“He had three different rooms there, a B room that had an old API console that had some history, and he built this gigantic soundstage so he could rehearse his tours there,” recalled Mould. “I remember we went into the A room and that’s where he hung out. We went in there for a couple days to do some bass overdubs, and the control room had all the scarves and stuff. He also had a 20 foot all-white lobby that had a really tall birdcage with a dove at the top of it.”
3. Poi Dog Pondering, “Spending the Day in the Shirt That You Wore” (1990): If you look at the photo in the below video, you’ll see Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering. See that exercise bike he’s riding? Yeah, that’s Prince’s. And if you listen to this song very, very closely, then you might actually hear the clothes pins and playing cards that were in the spokes of the bike, and you’ll almost definitely hear the bike’s bell and horn. According to the text that accompanies this video on YouTube, “We tried to get cyclist Greg LeMond to pedal the bike for the record. His management thought we were crazy.”
4. Big Head Todd and the Monsters, “Broken Hearted Savior” (1993): Another instance where working with David Z led a band to record at Paisley Park, but Todd Park Mohr – who puts the “Big Head” in Big Head Todd and the Monsters – recalled in a Facebook post about how he kinda sorta had regular encounters with Prince, if only on a technicality. “During the time when we recorded SISTER SWEETLY, every day for three months Prince would walk behind me while I played pinball in the lounge at Paisley Park,” recalled Mohr. “As part of our agreement, we were obliged not to talk about or look at Prince, so I naturally took my obligation seriously and never once moved in acknowledgement of the purple majesty. I always hoped that he liked me because of it."
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5. Donny Osmond, “The Echo of Your Whisper” (1997): This isn’t as unexpected as you’d think, especially once you realize that Osmond was managed by Jill Willis, former executive vice-president at Paisley Park Enterprises. Unlike the others on this list, however, Osmond actually did have interactions with Prince…and, no, they didn’t involve Donny saying, “You know, I was wearing purple way before you were.” (Well, probably not, anyway.) In an interview with the Daily Mail, Osmond discussed their encounter. “I met Prince when I was recording an album,” he said. “Interestingly, he asked me about my family, not my music. You know, ‘How do you keep your family together?’” Osmond’s connection to Paisley Park extended a bit longer, too: he also had his album release party there.
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