They’ve come in with their managers, road crews and bandmates. They often call ahead and arrange private tours, but sometimes they buy a ticket and show up just like everybody else.
In the case of Katy Perry, it’s all of the above.
“She’s been out here twice now, and the last time she actually came incognito,” said Mitch Maguire, tour operations manager at Paisley Park.
While a few thousand average-Joe fans from around the globe will once again flood Prince’s old studio complex in Chanhassen on Thursday for the start of the third annual four-day Celebration — timed to the anniversary of the Minnesota superstar’s death on April 21, 2016 — it’s worth noting that many well-known fans have also made the pilgrimage.
Perry is one of dozens of fellow pop stars and/or reputable musicians who have stopped in to take the Paisley Park tour since the facility reopened as a museum in October 2016.
While the Paisley crew maintains privacy for visitors just as Prince himself always sought, the staff there can dish a little on some of the famous names who — wanting to join in the celebration of the petite man and his giant canon of music — made their visits to the museum known to the world via Instagram or Twitter postings.
Some of the other famous visitors to Prince’s temple of late have included:
• Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who came in this past winter with his wife, Adrienne — a Twin Cities native — and their 20-something sons Joey and Jakob, both also musicians. Said Maguire, “I think he wanted his sons to see the kind of high level of musicianship and creativity that Prince stood for.”
• Bruno Mars, who stopped before his Xcel Energy Center concert in 2017, a few months after leading an homage to Prince at the Grammy Awards. “With Prince obviously being a huge influence on him, you could tell he was really appreciative being there,” Maguire said.
• Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and other members of Earth, Wind & Fire, when they played the State Fair last summer. They earned a blue-ribbon-level award from Prince himself, who featured their likeness on a “wall of influences” mural emblazoned outside his main studio. “I think they were pretty impressed by that,” Maguire said.
• Jason Mraz, another State Fair headliner. Like Perry, he showed up unannounced for an everyday tour. As Maguire put it: “It was a fun surprise for the other people on the tour.”
Geeking out in the studios
Other musicians who have taken the tour include Kacey Musgraves, Debbie Harry of Blondie fame, Shania Twain, the sister trio Haim, One Direction’s Niall Horan, Shaggy, Jodeci, Ro James, Sofi Tukker, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Comedians Dave Chappelle and George Lopez have visited, too, along with members of the bands Death Cab for Cutie, Third Eye Blind, Fitz & the Tantrums, Shinedown, the English Beat, the Front Bottoms and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
While the bigger names can prearrange a tour time, Maguire was quick to point out they otherwise don’t get special treatment. “They’re seeing the same things you see on the public tours, and nothing more,” he said.
About the only difference is that sometimes these tours can get a little more technical (read: geeky) than the typical walk through the Park.
“They really like to see the studio setups and fixate on things like the fact that he had a top-of-the-line AKG c12 microphone in what was essentially his home studio,” Maguire said.
The musicians also seem awed by what the studio meant in the grand scheme of Prince’s trailblazing career.
“Paisley Park is sort of the ultimate representation of Prince’s autonomy from the music business,” Maguire said. “He had something I think all of these artists respect and aspire to have for themselves.”
- Paisley Park Celebration 2019: 11 a.m. Thu.-Sun, featuring panels, films and live sets by the Revolution, Jesse Johnson and the Funk Soldiers. $549-$1,049.
- General tours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thu.-Mon. $38.50-$160.
- Tickets: officialpaisleypark.com
- Where: 7801 Audubon Rd., Chanhassen.
The one and only @katyperry with her uber talented band, dancers and crew. Very cool welcoming all of you to @PaisleyPark today. Wishing you a great show 2nite at @XcelEnergyCtr in #SaintPaul #Minnesota. #PaisleyParkIsInYourHeart #KatyPerry #WitnessTheTour #Witness pic.twitter.com/ABxALRENaY— Paisley Park (@PaisleyPark) December 2, 2017
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@billiejoearmstrong and his family visited Paisley Park yesterday! No stranger to artistic accomplishment in his own right, Billie Joe is a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, playwright, actor and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band @greenday Thank you for sharing your time and interest in Prince's creative genius with us. #Prince #PaisleyPark #MusicMonday