Prince was a deeply religious man, although his beliefs developed throughout his life. Born into a family of practising Seventh Day Adventists, his time spent at a local church gave him the interest in Bible study that shaped his life and work, eventually leading him to become a Jehovah’s Witness.
Since his death in 2016, his family members appear to have struggled to find the best way to celebrate his legacy. Prince’s reputation has always rested not just on the music he released, but also that he put out only a fraction of his output, with thousands of songs, live recordings, videos and even entire movies squirrelled away in his famous vault. Properly tended, there is enough for several lifetimes of worthwhile releases.
But so far all that’s come out is an expanded version of his most famous album, Purple Rain. Instead, the family have gone down the Elvis route, turning Prince’s private Minneapolis studio complex, Paisley Park, into another Graceland. My Name is Prince, a new exhibition of Princely artefacts, opened recently at the O2 in London, where Prince famously played 21 main shows and 14 aftershows 10 years ago.
Howard Bloom, Prince’s polymath former PR guru, who recently published the hugely entertaining memoir How I Accidentally Started the Sixties, believes it’s what Prince would have wanted. “Though he would have wanted it to be done with seduction, surprise and style,” he told me. “Prince laboured to rivet the attention of his audience every day of his life.”
I have mixed feelings about the exhibition. While there are undoubtedly interesting things on display, I’m not entirely sure it’s been curated with that crucial sense of seduction, surprise and style.
The good first. Prince’s clothes and shoes are so well presented that even those fans who are more focused on Prince’s output than his wardrobe will realise just what an important part his costumes played in his performances and productions.
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