Timberlake’s Paisley Park bash angers some Prince fans

Leanne Italie
Associated Press

At least one Prince superfan hopes the late superstar’s Paisley Park jacked up the price to rent out his former home and studio outside Minneapolis for a Justin Timberlake party ahead of the Super Bowl.

“That’s probably what Prince would have done with Justin being there,” laughed Jeremiah Freed, known as Dr. Funkenberry in the Prince fandom.

Justin Timberlake will host a listening party at Prince’s Paisley Park over Super Bowl weekend to support the release of his new album, “Man of the Woods."

The idea of Timberlake being allowed at the Chanhassen mecca has upset fans some still mourning the Purple One, as has the idea of Prince’s 65,000-square-foot spread being granted a temporary liquor license for the duration of Super Bowl mania.

But Freed, who hosts a Prince podcast out of Los Angeles, isn’t terribly bothered. Paisley was turned into a museum after Prince died of an accidental drug overdose in April 2016 and his urn is displayed in the front room atrium, far from the Timberlake listening session’s presumed location.

“I think the fans are just worried that they’re going to be walking around Paisley and they’re going to get wine on the carpet or wine on one of the displays. I imagine it would be just how it was in the past, in the soundstage area only for drinks,” Freed told the Associated Press in a recent interview.

Despite Prince’s no-alcohol reputation, there have been liquor licenses issued for Paisley in the past, including one for an event planned by Prince himself for the month after he died, Freed said.

Dennis Roszkowski, at 61 a top Prince memorabilia collector outside Detroit and an ex-correspondent for a British-based fan magazine called “Controversy,” said that among some fans, “emotions are still playing out.”

Prince fans are upset that the overseers of Paisley Park, home and studio of the late musician Prince in Chanhassen, Minn., have been granted a temporary liquor license for Justin Timberlake’s listening party over Super Bowl weekend.

“It’s like our home. We don’t want anything to happen to it,” he said of the unease over the Super Bowl event.

Sherry Stacy, 47, grew up in Detroit and has loved Prince since she was 8.

“I think it’s very rude (to allow alcohol) and it goes against everything Prince was about,” Stacy said. “Prince did his thing without drinking and people had fun without it when he would play there. It seems like it’s all for the wrong reasons, not to honor the man.”

American Express, sponsors of Timberlake’s listening tour, Paisley overseers and a Timberlake representative did not respond to requests for comment, but Freed figures the party for AmEx cardholders in celebration of Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” album will not include a free run of the place.

The Paisley soundstage holds about 1,800. American Express informed ticket buyers all ticket sales from Timberlake’s event will be donated to the National Park Foundation, the charitable arm of the U.S. National Park Service. He had no idea what American Express was charged to use Paisley. Timberlake will be in town to perform at halftime during the game.

“They’re probably making a lot of money off of this and it helps keep Paisley Park alive,” Freed said by telephone.

The sold-out Feb. 1 Timberlake party comes with a diss history between the two, initiated by Prince back in 2006 when he said of the “Sexyback” singer: “Sexy never left.” Timberlake, responded, in part by making fun of Prince’s short stature at an awards show but has declared himself a fan. He posted a moving Instagram tribute soon after Prince’s death and attended his Hollywood parties. The two never performed or recorded together.

“This whole JT thing, it’s a very sad situation to me. Justin was kind of snide about the whole thing with Prince,” Stacy said. “I think this is just a money grab. True Prince fams (what he called his fans) are all about real music played by real musicians, not a JT. I would rather see local musicians from the area. They would sell out, too.”

But Freed says he thinks it was just a friendly rivalry.