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Washington Avenue Warehouse

Prince transferred to a warehouse at 6953 Washington Avenue S. in Edina, Minnesota, in May 1985 after the previous facility, at 9025 Flying Cloud Drive that he had bought outright, was demolished to make way for the construction of a larger and more permanent studio complex. Yet that site proved too small for purpose and a new location was settled on, in the leafy suburb of Chanhassan where the construction of Paisley Park Studios began in January 1986. In this middle time, Prince rented an industrial warehouse that was built in 1972, at Washington Avenue for the purpose of staging tour rehearsals, as well as use as a larger recording facility with enough space for the full band, to what he was able to accommodate in the home studio at Galpin Blvd.

The initial use of the facility was to provide a space where his side project, The Family, to rehearse for their planned tour, although this tour never materialised. When Prince returned from Hollywood after working on the Parade album at Sunset Sound, a new Soundcraft TS-24 recording console was purchased and installed into the warehouse at Washington Avenue, along with the MARA MCI JH24 24-track recorder that was removed from the former Flying Cloud Drive studio. The studio had been prepared by his sound engineer Susan Rogers.

On his return to Minnesota, Prince and the Revolution took up residence at Washington Avenue and recorded the first track at the facility, Girls & Boys, on 8 July 1985. This was soon followed by Splash and then more tracks for the Parade album that were also recorded here: Alexa De Paris, Christopher Tracy’s Parade, Do U Lie?, Love Or $, Mountains and Venus De Milo. The stage rehearsals for the album’s promotional tour also took place at Washington Avenue.

Superfunkycalifragisexy, the first track which ended up in the configuration for The Black Album was recorded at Washington Avenue in September 1986, as was two tracks intended for the Revolution’s aborted fourth album Roadhouse Garden, being Splash and Empty Room – in August 1985. These sessions also included the original versions of The Question Of U and We Can Funk, which were later reworked and incorporated into the track configuration of the Graffiti Bridge album in 1990.

Prince’s last use of Washington Avenue was with for the full stage rehearsal for the Sign O’ The Times tour during the spring of 1987, for which the stage was dressed with the set backdrop borrowed from Chanhassen Dinner Theaters’s production of Guys And Dolls. This very setup is captured on the cover of the Sign O’ The Times album, when photographer Jeff Katz famously took a blurred closeup of Prince sat in the foreground, with the backdrop and instruments laid out on the stage behind him. When Paisley Park Studios became operational by the latter half of 1987, Prince no longer had the need to continue to use the Washington House facility. Its Soundcraft TS-24 console was removed and transferred to Paisley Park, where it was installed in Studio C. From this point all Prince’s tour preparations were staged at the new $10m studio complex.

Albums recorded at Washington Avenue warehouse

The Black Album (1987)

The Black Album

December 1987

Parade (1986)

Parade

March 1986

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