Shock, sadness, then a mushrooming explosion of purple and all things Prince.
The sudden passing of the Minnesota music icon continued to reverberate rapid-fire across the country and around the globe Friday, with people and landmarks seeming to vie to outdo one another in homage.
Landmarks from the Eiffel Tower to the Chicago skyline to San Francisco City Hall to the Interstate 35W bridge were awash in his signature hue. His songs blared from speakers and cellphones. The Broadway smash hit “Hamilton” concluded with a Prince-themed dance-off while the cast of “The Color Purple” performed a rousing rendition of “Purple Rain.” His distinctive image — guyliner-rimmed eyes, outfits trimmed with jewels, ruffles or lace — was splashed across the Internet, newspapers and magazines. NASA even tinted a nebula purple, taking the tributes interstellar.
But the Twin Cities, where Prince grew up and made his home even after he became a megastar, was ground zero. Thousands filled the streets around First Avenue, the downtown Minneapolis club where Prince got his start, and thronged Paisley Park, the Chanhassen complex where he recorded, performed, lived and ultimately died Thursday morning.
Instead of beginning to fade, the emotions that erupted at the news morphed into new outpourings of sentiment and celebration here and abroad.
“The love for Prince and his purple strands are just woven into the fabric of our lives,” said Jeff Hnilicka, director of events and performance programming for the Current, which organized a massive block party outside First Avenue, where all-night dance parties in Prince’s honor will continue Saturday.
Susan Stonefield was among the hundreds who gathered outside Paisley Park, “the Graceland of Minnesota,” she said, where she placed a bouquet of purple daisies. “I had other things I was supposed to do, but I felt very compelled to go and pay my respects. He’s done a lot for music and the state. He put Minnesota on the map.”
First Avenue’s first all-night dance party was packed to capacity Thursday, but similar crowds were expected Friday and Saturday night. “The icing on the cake was people who came in at 5 a.m. [Friday] to dance for a while before going to work,” said general manager Nate Kranz.
Outside the club, a crowd of about 10,000 showed up for a Prince tribute block party that closed off 7th Street between Hennepin and First avenues. “We knew that would be the spot people needed to be,” said Hnilicka. “We all needed to have that giant ‘Purple Rain’ singalong. … People just took over the street, leaping and singing along.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who was part of the crowd, wasn’t surprised by the massive turnout. “Think about what Prince has meant to so many people across the globe, not to mention folks in the Twin Cities. … Prince made us cool. Prince really made his mark from here.”
Flowers and other tokens continued to pile up outside First Avenue under the star bearing Prince’s name. Someone brought a bucket of colored chalk that fans have used to cover the surrounding sidewalk with scrawled tributes.
“Prince loved Minneapolis, and Minneapolis will always love Prince,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. “The scene outside of First Avenue was as electric as Prince’s music, which seemed to flow out of every open car window downtown. Minneapolis cried and laughed and sang together, and we will continue to do so for a long time.”
Prince-related observances will continue throughout the weekend and into next week. “Purple Rain” will screen at multiple theaters, and the bells of Minneapolis City Hall will play some of Prince’s best-known songs from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Local record stores rapidly sold out of Prince’s music. The Electric Fetus, which Prince visited regularly, had to order about 100 copies of each of his albums. Employee Parker Weckwerth said he expects them all to be gone by the weekend.
Even though shoppers at Hymie’s Vintage Records also came up empty-handed, owner Laura Hoenack said the atmosphere in the shop was “sweet.”
“It’s sort of a strange thing but an awesome thing that the record store becomes a gathering place,” she said.
Area Bachman’s shops saw increased demand for flowers “especially in the purple color,” said marketing director Karen Bachman Thull. Many who knew the star personally chose to skip the public gatherings and mourn quietly.
Donna Gregory, a Minneapolis makeup artist who worked for Prince and his first wife, Mayte, in the 1990s, posted a lengthy tribute on Facebook sharing a few of her favorite memories.
“I was blessed and graced to be able to work with him,” she said. “He was so spiritual. There was such a purity, such a childlike truth in his genius.”
St. Paul teacher Ruth Krider started the day playing Prince songs for her second-graders at St. Anthony Park Elementary, then talked about his contributions to music and culture.
“His diversity of style, love of life and living who he was, living his art — for young children to have a role model like that is important,” she said.
612-673-4853 Staff writer Erin Golden contributed to this report.