Paisley Park's Mitch Maguire talks about Prince's legacy

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Purple Rain exhibit
Purple Rain Room at Paisley Park (Photo courtesy of Paisley Park NPG Records)
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Paisley Park is an iconic symbol of Prince's life in Minnesota. Every day, the museum fills with fans. Some go out of curiosity, and some go to mourn. Mitch Maguire has met many many of these fans during his time as a tour guide at Paisley Park. He spoke with Jill Riley and Brian Oake about the impact of Prince, and how Paisley Park is allowing his legacy to live on.

Jill Riley: Mitch Maguire is a tour guide from Paisley Park. We met Mitch when Brian and I went on the VIP tour a couple months ago.

Brian Oake: So we went through the experience. I almost don't even want to talk about the best highlights because there were so many great "a-ha" moments for me. What's your experience been like now that you guys have settled into it and people come through on regular tours? Because we went when it was still relatively new. How are things going over at Paisley Park?

We've been heartened by the number of folks who have come through the doors since we opened in October. It bodes well for our success and sustainability going forward. We've just been really pleased to see the reaction of people that have come through the doors.

Jill Riley: The first impression that I got of you, Mitch, first and foremost, you are a Prince fan.

That is true. Lifelong Prince enthusiast, no doubt.

Jill Riley: Are you from Minnesota? Or are you from somewhere else and you came here for the job?

I'm originally from South Dakota, but once I graduated from college I kind of bounced around. I worked in the theater for a long time, and then I actually moved out to New York City and worked for David Letterman for a number of years. But I moved to Minneapolis about five years ago, which was really when Prince starting playing with regularity out at Paisley Park again. One of the things that was always on my list of things to do was to check out a Prince show at Paisley Park. So, over the course of that five-year period, I probably saw 15 Prince concerts out there. You've been through the facility; you know what it's like to be there. Those are some intimate spaces. To have an opportunity to see someone like Prince in that kind of a venue, that setting, in his home, was phenomenal.

Brian Oake: Your familiarity with, your passion for it, and the fact that you are a fan. But there were so many insights, and I guess the thing that would be difficult for me, even though I suppose with time it becomes easier. So many people come through who are coming through for the first time, or maybe finally coming at peace with the fact that Prince is gone. You have a front row seat for a lot of emotion. Day after day after day. Does that wear on you at all?

I actually think it's important to be able to provide that opportunity for those folks. I really relish the opportunity to be able to do that for them. For so many people, their life will never be the same. They're huge Prince enthusiasts. So coming to Paisley Park now, as it exists, is an important process for them in terms of how they're processing their own loss as it relates to Prince. One of the things I think is important to communicate to folks like that is though certainly it was a loss that came entirely too soon, we were really lucky to have had him for as long as we did. He left an incredible amount of musical gifts behind that we'll hang with us for the rest of our lives. That's really something to be thankful for.

Jill Riley: He always meant for that to be a museum someday.

That is correct. He did have conversations with folks close to him about turning Paisley into a museum at some point. In fact, some of the themed rooms that you see when you go through the museum were actually ear marked by Prince to be just what they are now. I think that's an important thing for people to know, is that really this is just implementing his vision now going forward.

Brian Oake: Prince has been around for a long time. So many different stages in his career. But walking into the Purple Rain room for me, there was a lot of nostalgia there. The outfit, the motorcycle, it's all right there. It was a powerful experience. It was amazing. This weekend, obviously, a lot of emotion and a lot of people remembering Prince, who we lost a year ago. What sort of things are going to be happening out at Paisley Park?

Our Celebration 2017 event really is a continuation of so many events similar to what Prince would host all the way back to the early 2000's. He would invite people into Paisley, he might showcase the facility itself, maybe some of the wardrobe pieces or instruments that he had. He would often engage people in conversations about social and political happenings of that time. There would always be music. It wouldn't be a Prince event without the music. So we're just now following through with that framework that he had designed years ago. But of course this year it's all going to be about Prince's life and legacy.

Jill Riley: Mitch, what is your favorite thing about being a tour guide at Paisley Park? Outside of your love of Prince.

I think it's just having the opportunity to meet with so many people that have a mutual admiration and respect for Prince. I really do believe it's a legacy we should protect and promote going forward, and so it's nice to be able to share that experience with so many people from all over the world.

Brian Oake: When we were there, there were people from other countries very early on. So I can only imagine as people get the opportunity to come to Minnesota. You've met people and given people tours form every corner of the globe.

I think that just speaks to the breadth of influence that Prince had across the world. He was arguably the greatest musical talent of his generation, but what you can't argue is that level of influence. That's reflected now in the people that come to visit the museum.

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