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Prince & Me

One of our long time family friends just was asking folks in one of our groups on Facebook, “What famous people have you met and where?” I think I have been pretty lucky to have met some very famous people in my life. So here is one: When I was 18 in my freshman year of attending Fairleigh Dickinson University I was under an amazing amount of stress as I finished up my first semester (long sad story). My family decided I could go up to spend the winter break with Aunt Gwen who lived in Edina, MN, just outside of St. Paul. Aunt Gwen & Uncle Alan had managed Prince’s Sign of the Times tour, and still worked very closely with him.

I had so much fun on this visit with Aunt Gwen: She gave me my first camera for my birthday, which is how I have pictures of any of this… we went to the Mall of America, Byerly’s grocery store (the most amazing grocery store I had ever seen), cross country skiing, walking across an enormous frozen solid lake, amazing fancy dinners out (including one in a rotating rooftop restaurant where you can see a tiny, baby Mississippi River out of the window,) shopping (at Ragstock and all kinds of cool shops), I picked out awesome and amazing clothes from Aunt Gwen’s insane clothing collection, taped copies of lots of Alan & Gwen’s amazing music collection, took long bubble baths with all manner of pricey perfumes, oils, masks, lotions, (you name it!  Aunt Gwen loves the HABA products just like I did especially back then, plus they stayed at tons of fancy hotels…), we had facials at the Aveda headquarters!!!, my 2nd professional manicure (I think the first was for my senior prom)… And we had TICKETS TO PRINCE’S PRIVATE NEW YEARS EVE CONCERT AND PARTY!!

But that was days away, and she just took me all around town with her for the whole time I was there. I went to work with Aunt Gwen at Paisley Park Studios. This was the lobby:

19871222 Paisley Park 1b

She showed me around and introduced me to a bunch of the people she worked with at the studio. I remember being especially thrilled that I got to take home a few buttons from wardrobe. It was in the wardrobe department that I got this pic of me wearing some sunglasses from wardrobe and holding up Prince’s outfit from the All Around the World in A Day video.

Me in Prince's wardrobe with his "All Around the World in One Day" outfit.

Me in Prince’s wardrobe with his “All Around the World in One Day” outfit.

So there we were, walking down one of the halls at the studio, and sure enough, here comes Prince with his girlfriend Susannah, (who was the twin sister of Wendy, of the musical pair Wendy and Lisa, Prince’s bandmates in the Revolution…). Aunt Gwen introduced us, and Susannah just flat out asked if I would like to join them in the studio, and Aunt Gwen (of course) is all “NO, she doesn’t need to go in there”, and I was dying of “yes yes yes please…”  And they let me in.

It was dimly lit, with a chair off to the side where I sat, and Prince sat at his Fairlight, which is a huge audio processing machine, and Susannah was kind of next to him but back a bit.  I sat there for about 2-3 hours, quiet as a mouse, listening to Prince work on his new album. He was doing a song called The Line. I was in awe – completely silent (afraid to get thrown out). Prince spoke to me only very briefly, and I was soooo nervous I could barely reply. But still. I will never forget that experience as long as I live. This was during the time Prince was working on The Black Album. I only learned that later when I looked up the words I remembered him singing because it wasn’t something that ever came out in wide release.

19871222 Paisley Park 2.

Of course, cameras were strictly forbidden! That is my excuse for why this picture is so blurry – I was shaking and trying to be really quick about it! I snapped this just after Prince and Susannah walked out of the room.

This is another shot from one of the studios (I’m sure it looks completely different now):

19871222 Paisley Park 3

I have a few more shots from around the studio – I was being very sneaky, I don’t know how I wasn’t too scared. I really was terrified one of Prince’s “people” would catch me and confiscate my camera…

The manicure and facials Aunt Gwen treated me to were in preparation for the big New Year’s Eve party thing. I wore a black velvet dress, long black gloves and my great great grandmother’s fur trimmed coat.

19871231 Sasha fur

At our table was Prince’s younger half(?) brother, John. I think he might have been about 14 at the time. This is John and me from the photo thing at the party.  Again, cameras were strictly forbidden, but they had this setup with a professional photographer so you could have some remembrance of the night.

19871231 Sasha b

At the party, I got to meet Morris Day and the Time, and then I was thrilled beyond words to meet Miles Davis, who kissed me on the cheek!!! I immediately ran to a pay phone to call my old boyfriend Matt, because I was dying to tell someone!!! There was caviar (which I tried) and champagne (which Aunt Gwen would never have let me have) and a really amazing concert that I was right up front for… I was too scared to take any photos for most of the night but I did snap this one pic as they were cleaning up at the end of the night:

19871231 PP stage

I just found out (thank you, Google) there is a bootleg DVD of this concert available, and even an interview of Uncle Alan talking about Prince and Miles and a little about this night.

I have always loved Prince’s music, but to watch and listen to him at work was just magic for me. I know I was sooo lucky to have that experience. I will never forget it, but I sure am glad to have these few pics to remember it all. For this and so much more, Thanks Again, Aunt Gwen!

5 Responses to “Prince & Me”

  1. on 02 Sep 2013 at 7:06 am vivienne robinson

    great story, sasha. how long did it take you to wash your cheek after that kiss?

  2. on 26 Nov 2013 at 12:51 pm Tyler

    Firstly I want to say I love your story. Prince fan here.

    You described that outfit as from All Around the World in One Day. the title of the album is:Around the World in a Day. I suspect you’re talking about the Raspberry Beret video(1985) The outfit is actually from his Sign of the Times(movie-concert)1986 he wore it during Hot Thang.

  3. on 26 Nov 2013 at 12:59 pm admin

    Thank you very much for the correction! I was relying on faulty memory :) Should have googled it! LOL

  4. on 08 Dec 2013 at 3:26 am Modernaire

    Truly amazing story. I can ask you so many questions, but I may leave that for later. For now, THANK YOU for sharing your story and those photos in such high resolution!

    I can see details in the studio, especially interesting because thats the studio and how it was FOR the Black Album, maybe Lovesexy recording sessions as well.

    The graffiti photo looks like all that was for Prince next movie/album project he was already working on which eventually became Graffiti Bridge. Madonna was play the Washington character.

    It all sort of fell apart and changed or placed on hold, but its interesting to see that at that stage, all that graffiti was sort of possibly a way to get the creative process going for that project.

    Anyway, I’m going off onto that, but WOW, you were there for the New Years show. One of my all time favorite concerts, baffles why he didn’t release that on VHS then or televise it. I had in my collection the ‘POOL’ sign from SOTT tour, long story.

    Did you stand near the front center?!

    I met Alan, Leeds correct? Great guy, as is Eric. I’ve met Susannah as well, Miles… sigh… that would of been great. A giant, a legend.

    Thanks again! If I think of other questions, I may just ask if that’s okay :^D

  5. on 11 Dec 2013 at 12:17 pm admin

    Thanks! I was in the front and center for the New Year’s Show! And yes, it’s Alan Leeds I was referring to.

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