STORIES FROM THE PARK
PRN Alumni Foundation is comprised of the former employees of Prince, Paisley Park, Paisley Park Records, PRN Productions, NPG Records, Love4OneAnother, any and all of Prince’s companies spanning his impressive nearly 40 year career.
There have been, quite literally hundreds of us in Prince’s employ. The Foundation represents our collective voice.
We are musicians, engineers, managers, lighting directors, wardrobe designers, stylists, makeup artists, drivers, bodyguards, admin staff, valets, drivers (and more!)
This ‘Stories From The Park’ chronicle is a way for our colleagues of all tenures and job types to share a little bit of Prince’s magic with you through our individual voices.
We hope you enjoy getting to know us…we feel as if we’ve known you, Prince’s fans (fam) forever <3
With love and gratitude,
PRN Alumni Foundation
Spotlight: St. Paul Peterson (Pt. 2)
FOR LOCAL LEGEND ST. PAUL PETERSON…
NOTHING COMPARES 2 PRINCE
Interviewed by writer: Tony Kiene
The Song (continued from part 1)
As fate would have it, The Family’s initial rise was short-lived. Sensing that Prince had already moved beyond The Family and was exploring new territories, Paul made the decision to leave the group. In a 1991 interview for a BBC documentary, Paul revealed that he called Prince in France (where he was filming Under The Cherry Moon) to let him know that he was done, adding that “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
St. Paul, as he continued to be known, landed on his feet in rather short order and released his solo debut on MCA Records in 1987 featuring the hit single “Rich Man.” Three years later, as Paul prepared to release his first single on the Atlantic label, “Stranger to Love,” that special song from the past emerged in a most unexpected and unsettling way.
In February 1990, up and coming Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor released her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which went on to reach number one in nineteen countries and garnered three Grammy nominations. Recalling the inordinate success of O’Connor’s version of the song, Paul says, “None of us were cool with it, least of all Prince.” In retrospect, Paul admits that it was simply jealously on his part and today he’s just happy to have been the originator of Prince’s vision for “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
“What can I say,” declares Paul, “It is such a great song. It is so memorable, so successful. To me it is among his finest works ever. I realize that is saying a lot. But hey, it’s a killer song.”
In the last few years before Prince’s passing, Paul was able to hang out with his mentor on several occasions. And, during one of these conversations Paul brought up “Nothing Compares 2 U” while pondering how much money it must have earned Prince over the years. Prince abruptly retorted, “It’s not about money. That was my baby. That was my song. That was your song.” Paul understood. Yet still, he remained happy for Prince, as well as Sinéad, his bandmates in The Family, himself, and for that matter, anyone that had a hand in the song.
Back Where it All Started
Nearly two years after Prince passed, the phone rang in Paul’s childhood home, the home he himself bought after his own mother passed away. Paul answered and the voice on the other end of the line said, “You’re going to start getting a lot of calls from the press.” “Okay,” replied Paul, “And, who is this?”
The other voice, which happened belonged to “Michael from Warner Bros.” was calling to alert Paul that Prince’s estate was planning to release his original recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U” on the second anniversary of his passing. When Michael asked whether Paul was aware of this or if he had recently heard the original recording, his response to each question was “No.” Michael reiterated that he would likely be hearing from the media and forwarded a copy of the recording to Paul.
Unlike the first time a recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U” was delivered to his house, all Paul had to do now was wait for the email to show up in his inbox. So, he sat down in the same kitchen he did at 19, put his headphones on and hit play.
Reminiscing on that precise moment, Paul says “I couldn’t believe it. A tear came to my eyes and I was instantly transported back to that summer in 1984. Here I was almost 34 years later; same house, same kitchen, exact same song. Talk about coming full circle. It was so amazing, yet so incredibly heart wrenching. This was my mentor.”
Today, when Paul considers the totality of his career, there is undoubtedly an awful lot to reflect on. By simply being a veteran of The Minneapolis Sound, he has been part and parcel of one of the world’s most celebrated musical phenomenons, and as such, has collaborated with some of the greatest musicians of all time, most notably Prince Rogers Nelson.
In addition to a solo career which includes four studio albums and a greatest hits package, he’s helped to anchor local all-star line-ups such as the TC Jammers, The Truth, and The Minneapolis Funk All-Stars. Moreover, Paul’s services have been frequently requested outside of the Twin Cities as he has worked with legends such as Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Anita Baker, Steve Miller, Oleta Adams, Little Anthony, Kenny Loggins, The System, and The Corrs among so many others.
In recent years he’s partnered with fellow PRN alumnus Eric Leeds to introduce LP Music to the world, while fDeluxe (the band formerly known as the Family) has four new albums to its credit since 2011. In addition, he has showcased the stylings of the renowned Paul Peterson Orchestra at a number of local nonprofit gala events and even found time to serve as a faculty member and program chair at the Minnesota Media Institute.
In the past year alone, fDeluxe was among the headliners at Paisley Park’s Celebration 2018, while Paul served as musical director of Australia’s “Nothing Compares 2 Prince” tour, and as bandleader for the University of Minnesota’s “Honoring Prince” event, where his late mentor was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Human Letters.
More than anything, he has the tremendous opportunity to continue performing with his siblings and extended family, while getting to share everything with Julie, his wife of 28 years, and their two children.
When pressed to sort through all of the memories that he’s collected in a lifetime of music, certain instances stand out. One that freely comes to mind took place that August night in 1985 when The Family played at First Avenue. “As we left the stage,” recalls Paul, “There was Prince smiling, waiting in the wings. I had no idea he was even there. And then, he just grabs me and hugs me and says, ‘Man. That was incredible.’ How could I ever forget that?”
For more about St. Paul Peterson, visit paulpeterson.com
© Tony Kiene & PRN Alumni Foundation