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The Afro is back. The one like Prince sported when he played basketball for Minneapolis' Bryant Junior High in the early 1970s. He was an, um, undersized guard – a talented reserve (No. 3 in the photo), according to one of his coaches -- but one of the stars of the team was his half-brother Duane Nelson (No. 21 in the photo).
The photo of Prince the hoopster went viral today because Libor Jany, one of the Star Tribune's newer reporters, discovered the clipping in our library and posted it on Twitter. The photo has been picked up by Deadspin, Slate and others with titles like "Prince was an Afro-rocking, coach-hating schoolboy basketball player."
This photo, taken from a Bryant Junior High School yearbook, was published in July 1984 in the Star Tribune as part of a multi-day series on Prince leading up to the premiere of his movie “Purple Rain.” For the series, I interviewed countless people in Prince’s life – from his parents and his high school music teacher to various classmates and musicians.
As he moved on to Central High School (class of 1976), Prince, who still likes to play basketball (even wearing his high-heeled shoes), gravitated more toward music, especially since he wasn’t getting much playing time on the court.
Two quick memories about the series:
The publisher of the Star Tribune told me that the series accounted for the biggest newsstand sales of the paper ever – figures that were later eclipsed when the Minnesota Twins won their first World Series in 1987.
At the post-premiere party for “Purple Rain” in Hollywood, a member of Prince & the Revolution told me that the series “blew our minds.” The musician said the band talked more about the series than about the movie.
One thing the series disclosed: Prince’s true age. I tracked down his birth certificate and learned that he was actually two years older than he had purported to be. He was born on June 7, 1958, as Prince Roger Nelson, according to the birth records.
Just a few months after welcoming the biggest country music star of the ‘90s out of retirement, Target Center will welcome back that decade’s biggest female country singer, Shania Twain – who’s calling this her last go-round.
Twain announced a July 28 date at the Minneapolis arena, tickets for which go on sale March 13 at 10 a.m. for $46-$136 through AXS.com or the arena box office. Her first local gig since 2004, it falls about halfway through her 48-city tour, which she’s calling the Rock This Country Tour.
“"This is my last tour, so I'm going to make the most of it," Twain, 49, said on “Good Morning America” while announcing the shows Wednesday. "I want to go out with a bang."
The Canadian singer still holds the record for the top-selling country music album of all time -- and best-selling album of any genre by a female artist -- with 1997’s “Come on Over,” which sold more than 40 million copies worldwide with hit singles such as “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” She went on hiatus after a 2004 tour and battled her way through vocal problems until this past December, when she made her comeback with a series of shows at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas -- akin to how fellow ‘90s goliath Garth Brooks came out of retirement.
Unlike Brooks, though, Twain won’t be turning her Target Center date into a marathon, as she’s scheduled to perform in Moline, Iowa’s iWireless Center two nights before and Allstate Arena outside Chicago the night after Minneapolis.
With her latest album, “Piece by Piece,” arriving Tuesday via a strong industry buzz and media blitz, Kelly Clarkson announced a summer tour that will bring her to Xcel Energy Center on Aug. 4. Two theater-level acts with strong Twin Cities followings, Pentatonix and Eric Hutchinson, will open the show. Tickets go on sale March 21 at 10 a.m. for $29.50-$99.50 via Ticketmaster and the arena box office.
Clarkson, 32, was the first winner on Fox TV’s “American Idol” and remains the only champ from the show besides Carrie Underwood to sustain her or his popularity. The Texan pop singer, who became a mom last summer, hasn’t performed in town since 2011, when she headlined KDWB’s Jingle Ball.
Tuesday's Clarkson announcement follows Monday's big news of another Madonna date at Xcel Center.
After selling out for the first time last year with 30,000 tickets sold, the Soundset Festival is sticking with the same winning formula for its eighth annual installment, scheduled May 24 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. The lineup announced today includes the usual mix of hip and hot rappers on the verge, such as J. Cole, Big Sean and Logic; local favorites like Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Dessa and Sean Anonymous; veteran acts Ice Cube, Ludacris and Dilated Peoples, and envelope-pushing newcomers a la Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib and Vic Mensa.
Here’s the full list of performers:
Atmosphere / J. Cole / Ice Cube / Big Sean / Ludacris / Logic / Yelawolf / Dilated Peoples / Clockwork Indigo (Flatbush Zombies & the Underachievers) / Brother Ali / Vic Mensa / Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic & DJ Abilities / Dessa (of Doomtree) / DJ Jazzy Jay / Hopsin / Smif-N-Wessun (20 year anniversary of “Dah Shinin’”) / DJ Babu / Freddie Gibbs & Madlib / Vince Staples / Watsky / DJ Eclipse / deM atlas / DJ Supreme / B. Dolan / Father / SonReal / G.L.A.M. / Chester Watson / Sa-Roc / Sean Anonymous / Manny Phesto / Freez with DJ Willie Shu / Set the Smith / DJ Lean Rock / DJ Stage One / DJ Adatrak / DJ Str8reppin / Hosted by Sway Calloway, St. Paul Slim and J. Pratt
The lineup lacks a current mainstream-crossover name that might attract top 40 fans like Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Macklemore in past years. However, J. Cole did land a No. 1 record last year with “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” Ice Cube hasn’t had a hit in 25 years, but he’s obviously well-known as a movie star today and could be rightfully recognized as a rap giant again with the upcoming biopic on N.W.A. set to hit movie theaters later in the summer.
Regardless, the individual acts' star power seems to take a backseat to the festival's own unique persona each year. And anyway, the fest literally can't get any bigger (30,000 people seems to be the comfortable capacity level for the festival grounds). This year's show will have a special local angle to it as it falls on the 20th anniversary of Rhymesayers Entertainment, the pioneering Minneapolis label behind the fest.
Tickets go on sale Saturday at 11:00am through www.ticketweb.com and Fifth Element record store in Uptown. General admission tickets start at $62, and a VIP goes for $140. Stay tuned to the Rhymesayers and Soundset Twitter and Facebook accounts for details on pre-sale access.
Twin Cities fans will have plenty of chances to catch My Morning Jacket in concert this summer. Part of the Mumford & Sons festival lineup announced yesterday for Waverly, Iowa, Kentucky’s hairiest rock stars issued their own summer tour plans this morning with two Minneapolis dates at Northrop Auditorium scheduled June 26-27.
Tickets go on sale March 27 at prices to be announced. Pre-sale access starts March 23 via the band’s site. The openings will be two of the Twin Cities' own, Hippo Campus the first night and Lizzo the second, both of whom are also playing a handful of shows with MMJ in other cities (their management is tight with MMJ's handlers).
This will be MMJ’s first local indoor gig since Orpheum Theatre in 2008, following a string of outdoor shows that included the Americanarama tour with Bob Dylan and Wilco at Midway Stadium in 2013, the notorious Beerline-o-rama concert at Somerset Amphitheater in 2012 and Rock the Garden at Walker Art Center in 2011.
With about 200 more seats than the biggest of the Hennepin Avenue theaters (the Orpheum), the recently remade Northrop is becoming more of a go-to choice for mid-range rock acts. Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens are also set to play there this spring. Fans probably won't need to worry about long beer lines there, since drinks are only allowed in the hallways and not inside the auditorium.
MMJ’s first album in four years, “The Waterfall,” arrives May 4 via a new record deal with Capitol Records. Here’s the first track issued from it, “Big Decisions (Visualizer),” which was co-written with Twin Cities native Dan Wilson of Semisonic fame.
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