This backstage laminate from Prince's 1980 tour with "Superfreak" hitmaker James is part of RR Auction's new collection. / Courtesy RR Auction
Another trove of one-of-a-kind Prince mementos and personal items is on the auction block, and this time some of the offerings truly are personal.
Boston-based memorabilia seller RR Auction -- which hosted a big sell-off back in February with former Paisley Park staffers – is now marketing an even larger bundle of goods, including some truly unique items belonging to Susannah Melvoin, Prince’s girlfriend in the mid-‘80s and the sister of his Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin.
Susannah's offerings are featured alongside other newly available artifacts from Prince’s longtime horn player Eric Leeds, assistant tour manager Gwen Leeds (Eric’s sister-in-law), costume designer Helen Hiatt and several other ex-employees of Paisley and/or PRN Productions. Maybe the most coveted piece in the 200-plus-item roundup will be Prince’s laminated backstage pass from his first big tour opening for Rick James in 1980, a photo of which has already been all over social media (current bid: $1,500).
The most talked-about items, however, could be Melvoin’s. Also known from the “Nothing Compares 2 U”-singing Prince side-project the Family (with Eric Leeds) and as the co-writer of “Starfish and Coffee,” she offered up 27 items to RR Auction. They include Prince’s handwritten script notes for the movie “Under the Cherry Moon” (now at $4,875), leggings he wore during his early stage outings in 1979 ($888) and a series of one-word postcards that purportedly precluded his marriage proposal to Melvoin ($330).
In a Soundcloud recording posted alongside her items on RR Auction’s site, Melvoin singles out those nuptial-hinting postcards as the kind of thing that was authentically Prince. They were apparently sent by a Bachman’s florist to Melvoin, who misspelled her name as "Miss Malvoin" and wrote individually on the cards, "Please," "No," "Guess?" and "Yes."
“I knew, no matter if it was his writing, this was him,” she says. “This came directly from him. I knew that nobody could think that way.”
Also in the podcast, Melvoin preemptively strikes down possible criticism over her decision to sell off these items, saying that her personal memories of Prince and his music are what mean the most to her. She might also get a sympathetic break from Prince diehards after the celebrity tabloids reported a few years ago that her ex-husband, Texas blues-rocker Doyle Bramhall II, was allegedly behind on paying child support to her (celeb gossip because Bramhall was dating actress Renee Zellweger at the time).
“It’s OK for me to put those in the hands of collectors, and people would say their lives become fuller,” Melvoin told RR Auction. “It puts branches on their tree of life. It’s now a part of their lives. I’m happy to share that. If I had more [to share], I would.”
There’s plenty more to choose from besides her contributions in the auction, which wraps up Sept. 27. See the whole shebang at RRauction.com. Other highlights include:
*Nine pages of Prince's handwritten musical enhancements notes for the film “Purple Rain.”
*Prince's bright yellow custom-made high-heeled shoes from the “Sign o’ the Times” tour (seen below).
*Prince’s 'Mountains’ handwritten chorus music sheet lyrics.
*Another vinyl pressing of the infamously shelved 1986 LP “Camille.”
*A 1986 cassette recording of Prince rehearsing.
Susannah Melvoin, left, with twin sister Wendy Melvoin in the 'Girls & Boys' video.