NEW YORK — 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 fandom.
The idea of Timberlake being allowed at the Chanhassen mecca has upset some fans 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 a former correspondent for a British-based fan magazine called “Controversy,” said that among some fans, “emotions are still playing out.”
“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,” she 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 will be donated to the National Park Foundation, the charitable arm of the U.S. National Park Service. Freed had no idea what American Express was charged to use Paisley. Timberlake will 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 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 said he thinks it was just a friendly rivalry.
“With someone like Prince, he felt like there was no competition so he would make up competition in his head. He would constantly, with artists that were relevant, try to make little rivalries because it motivated him. You know, I’m better than Justin. The only competition was him and the past.”
Ramon Muntjewerff, 49, is a Dutchman living in Dungarvan, on the south coast of Ireland. Muntjewerff, too, was a correspondent for “Controversy,” which was also a fan club. Both shut down around 1993 after the fan-founder had a falling out with Prince.
“I don’t think Prince would be too happy about all of this,” Muntjewerff said of the Timberlake party. “If it’s just a money grabbing thing, to get more money when they don’t need it, it’s the wrong way. But then again Prince was into finding all sorts of new ways to make money and he didn’t make some people happy about that, either.”
Freed’s final word on how Prince would feel?
“Only Prince knows,” he concluded.