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Rich A. Benson

From my youth as a paperboy, the tangible aspect of a printed article as a keepsake led me to begin collecting paper memoirs from my experiences, be it concert tickets, magazine music reviews or anything pertaining to Prince in print. Somehow, I knew one day everything would be digitized and less tangible, so I took care of my collection with great passion. My collection grew over a few decades of collecting, representing not only a local perspective, but a global one, that consists of thousands of articles across the spectrum of Prince’s career.

Selections from Rich A. Benson's private collection, featuring articles and memoirs leading up to Prince: A Celebration concert in June 2000.

I arrived in Minneapolis in the Summer of 1998 and immediately visited Paisley so I could see for myself just what I had been hearing about for years but had never experienced. When I arrived, the gate was open! As I walked up to the doors in a nonchalant way, a lady came to the door and I simply asked if Prince was around, or if I could have a tour, to which she quickly answered by saying, “No, he’s not here, and we don’t exactly do tours.” I replied, ‘Well, you should let the public see this phenomenal space. I just moved up here and I’ll be going to music school soon, so I’ve wondered how one finds out about events.” She said, ‘I’ll pass that idea along about tours, but sometimes he’ll have parties, so stop by on the weekends and look for the purple lights to be ON.” In a way, I secretly thought I somehow put in motion the idea of having a Paisley Park open house TO THE WORLD. That incredible week in 2000 really opened my eyes to how much he’s loved worldwide.

From the summer of 1998, I began near weekly pilgrimages out to Paisley in hopes of seeing him play, like I’d heard through online forums, chat groups or whispers in certain fan circles. What drew me deeper into this experience was the transition from who he was becoming pre-Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic era, into the reclamation of his namesake when he announced the Celebration events in May of 2000. I’m forever grateful for my late night, transformative experiences up close in the small Love4OneAnother room, sometimes until the break of dawn. I think we all sensed a newfound freedom in so many ways, and bringing people ‘into his house’ for those days in June of 2000 was the start of something big and we all knew it.

Image credit: The Current.
Rich A. Benson at Purple Preview, May 17, 2018

Rich A. Benson was born La Crescent, Minnesota, and moved to Minneapolis in 1998. He works in the wellness industry and has a deep passion for photography. He has been collecting Prince memorabilia for as long as he can remember. The first piece in his collection was a “Purple Rain” button, which he proudly wore in his school class photo at age eight.

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