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Prince's Purple Ticket Party


bouche
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Apparantly there were a couple of winners that found a purple ticket. Here's an account that I got off of the NPG Music Club from a member who won from the second chance sweepstakes.

Incidentally, there is a very intimate show in Vegas on May 27 and 28 that I can get tix 4. The price? $312.01 each. YIKES! Damn that would be fine!


Like others, I received a call on April 14 notifying me that I had won a purple ticket in the second chance sweepstakes. According to a Universal Records rep, only one purple ticket was found in a CD in the US. Another was found in a CD in Canada, according to that winner.

My guest and I flew out to LAX on Friday morning (May 5th). We arrived in L.A., got settled in our room at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, just 3 miles from Prince’s (rented) home in the Hollywood Hills, and went out to the Sunset Strip Friday night to see the sites.

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The view from the Beverly Hilton.

6 May 2006

After a couple schedule changes, a chartered coach was scheduled to pick up the U.S. winners from the Hilton at 8:30pm Saturday night (the international winners stayed at another hotel), with hors d’oeuvres to be served and a tour of his home to be conducted upon our arrival. A letter we received on Friday stated dinner would be served at the party, but the Universal rep informed us while waiting to depart on the bus that trays of hors d’oeuvres, not a sit-down meal, would be served. The rep didn’t know what kind of contact we might have with Prince, but instructed us to be prepared to speak to him, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, or Prince’s own film crew, with the proper amount of enthusiasm for the event and the album.

The bus departed a little after 8:30pm, and we arrived at “3121” (actually 1235 Sierra Alta Way, West Hollywood) at about 9:10pm. The address (1235) was painted on the curb, but gold lettering for “3121” was placed on the entrance.

We exited the bus and waited at the gates, with the usual warnings against cell phones, cameras, and recording devices. Groups of six were searched and then escorted to a van for the 200 foot drive up the driveway to the door.

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With the U.S. and international winners, plus guests, approximately 50 people were assembled at the base of the stairs leading to the front door at about 10:10pm. While we waited for a moment, Prince’s film crew captured the arriving guests, and Kevin Frazier began interviewing winners for Entertainment Tonight. A view of the steps leading up to the front door can be seen inside the front flap of the 3121 CD case.

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A few moments later, a hostess (I did not catch her name) welcomed us to the party, and escorted us past the threshold into the entryway to Prince’s home. We were brought up the main staircase to the balcony and into the 3121 room. Unfortunately, Prince did not speak to the contest winners, and no tour was provided.

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A large chandelier and table occupied the center of the entryway, with a staircase leading up to the second floor, where the 3121 parties take place. To the left was a bar and pool table (pictured on the "Lolita" page of the 3121 CD booklet), some bookshelves with a few decorative books and photos (Morris Day, Malcolm Jamal Warner, The Twinz with their mother). Down a hallway shooting off from that room, was the 3121 listening room pictured on the NPGMC (formerly the Glam Slam room where the weekend tracks are played) and on the "Black Sweat" page of the 3121 CD booklet.

Up the main staircase from the entryway are the split-level balcony, indoor and outdoor bars, and the 3121 room where the parties have been thrown. The concert area was all one level, no stage setup, with hardwood floors and a mirror across the entire length of one wall (picture a dance studio or workout room, with a large O(+> symbol made of inlaid wood on the floor). Circular tables were lined against the walls, three per side.

The main doors to the 3121 room are pictured on the front cover of the 3121 CD booklet, with “3121” and the symbol of an eye painted in purple above the doors. Above there, a laser projector spread a white O(+> across the balcony floor. Another O(+> symbol was projected on the doors.

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To the right of the doors, a staircase led up to the second level of the balcony, with the 3121 fountain to the right (pictured on the last page of the 3121 CD booklet) and tennis court above the performance room.

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Inside the 3121 room, a portion of the “Roots” television series was projected across the back wall (or perhaps it was "Black Orpheus"?). When we arrived, Housequake was spinning on the turntables, with a voiceover comprised of a mocked-up interview between DJ Rashida and Prince in his “old man” character (?). She asked Prince something about biscuits, and Prince replied something along the lines of ‘I like them crispy on the outside, but not too flaky…’. Later on in the evening, interspersed between cuts from various Prince-related records, DJ Rashida provided a “station announcement” for “3121 Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio”.

A catering staff wearing matching black robes with “3121” in gold lettering written on the collar made the rounds with trays of crab cakes, eel, sushi (California rolls, Philadelphia rolls), veggieburgers, quiche, spring rolls, and tuna. Late in the evening, strawberry sorbet was served with mint leaves and chocolate wafers. An open bar served a full stock of liquor, beer and wine all evening and no tips were accepted. There was no champagne served in a glass with chocolate handles, nor any Japanese robes or sandals. The servers outfits did, however, resemble a kung-fu outfit.

We were told Prince’s guests would arrive at ~11:00pm, and the first group (including no one I recognized) came up the stairway at 11:10pm.

At ~11:30pm She’s Always in My Hair slowed to a halt on the turntable, the Memoirs of a Geisha theme music (played at the recent Ta’mar shows) was queued up, and the relatively empty dance floor quickly became a packed crowd of bodies 10 rows deep. Many contest winners were up front in the first few rows, but the crowd at the front mixed throughout the night with celebs and other guests.

The band made its way through the crowd, with Prince, dressed in a mauve suit, in tow. (I frankly can’t say much about the look of the performers or the performance itself. While I was standing in the 3121 room when the record slowed and it was obvious the performance was about to begin, the crowd from outside on the balcony quickly bumrushed in as soon as they saw the band members coming up the stairs. Through the course of the evening, I never managed to catch more than a couple fleeting glimpses of Prince or the other band members. Like many gigs at Paisley Park, the crowd was packed tight against the performance area, and without a proper elevated stage, many people were unable to see much at all.)

The band consisted of the following members:

Prince (guitar)

Morris Hayes (keys)

Cora Coleman Dunham (skins)

Josh Dunham (bass)

Ta’mar (vocals)

The Twinz (background vocals, killer dance moves)

The first set was comprised of the first portion of the Ta’mar show (~11:30pm - 12:30am):

Every Little Step

All Night Long

Milk and Honey

I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)

Love Changes

When a Man Loves a Woman

To The Teeth (Ani DiFranco cover --- this has been reported as a new jam titled “Open Fire” --- it’s not)

Red-Headed Stepchild

The Cross (intro)

Rock Steady

The Ta’mar set concluded at 12:30am. With the temperature quickly rising in the 3121 room, the crowd piled out onto the balcony. After a short while, the crowd began to reform near the performance area, so that it was already packed before the next set began. At ~1:10am, the band reassembled and began the second set.

The second set was comprised of new 3121 album tracks, mixed with the second half of the Ta’mar show and other tracks (1:10am – 2:15:am):

3121

Lolita

Satisfied

Black Sweat

Kiss

Joy in Repetition

Fury

Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

What Have You Done For Me Lately

Partyman

It’s Alright (intro)

Play That Funky Music

Love Rollercoaster

It’s Alright

I Want To Take You Higher (with guest Larry Graham)

Purple Rain

Let’s Go Crazy

The set concluded at 2:15am, and by this time, approximately 100 guests were in attendance, including many celebrities who were clearly enjoying the show (see the list below). Again, the crowd poured out of the steamy 3121 room onto the balcony. The contest winners mingled with the other guests for an hour, and then were gathered to depart, at 3:15am.

On the way out, the hostess and other staffers distributed gift packs for the contest winners. When queried, the hostess stated the gifts were furnished by Prince himself, not the record label. Each contest winner received a round, purple box, neatly ribboned shut with a bow and purple-frosted cookies on top. Inside were several gifts:

  • A purple t-shirt with orange lettering (front: the 3121 “eye” symbol; back: 3121 logo, “Purple Ticket Concert”, “MAY 6 2006”)

  • A 3121 tambourine (similar to the previous O(+> tambourine)

  • A mango cantaloupe candle with the 3121 logo fashioned on the sides

  • A promotional copy of the Te Amo Corazon CD single with the DVD-Video disc

  • A promotional copy of the Black Sweat CD single

The winners’ guests each received a black gift bag containing the t-shirt, the two CD singles, and cookies.

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All in all, the evening was a grand success. The food and drink, the party, the guests --- the whole experience was unbelievable. I loved the Ta'mar show when I saw it, so it was great to hear those songs, and the new album material was amazing. I couldn't wait to hear 3121 live, and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. I wish we could have heard a little more from the album, but this wasn't a concert from a new tour --- this was a special event in his home, and we were all thankful for it.

The only thing I would dare mention as a complaint is what I stated about the stage situation. With no real stage, everyone was just packed up against the front. With an elevated area, I could have seen the performance and it would have been more relaxed for the crowd. I know the setup was in keeping with the party feel Prince wanted, but it also created problems, because people change their behavior when they can't see what's going on. It exacerbates the pushing, shoving and crowding that all detract from the performance itself. Being able to witness even a little bit of what's going on just helps everyone relax.

Regardless of that one issue, I want to thank Prince and everyone involved for making the evening and entire trip so enjoyable. It was a night I will definitely never forget!

Celebrities in Attendance

Note: There may have been more, and others have been mentioned, but these were the ones I personally say, in the order I saw them. I was also told that the guest list looked like a “who’s who” of the rich and famous.

David Duchovny

Sharon Stone

Cicely Tyson

Angela Bassett

Wyclef Jean

Jude Law

Bruce Willis

Mekhi Phifer

Jada Pinkett Smith

Natalie Cole

Trisha Yearwood

Maroon 5 (less Adam Levine)

Points of Interest

While in the area, we decided to visit a few points of interest. One such place was Sunset Sound, the recording studio where Prince recorded much of the material from 1981-85 (Controversy to Parade) in Studio 3.

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The restricted entrance to Sunset Sound.

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Sunset Sound - a nondescript building with an entrance on a nondescript sidestreet.

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A view down Sunset Blvd of Sunset Sound's plain brick building.

Another such place was Bernie Grundman Mastering, where many Prince albums have been mastered (including 3121). Prince has reportely walked the master tapes for a new recording over to Bernie Grundman from Sunset Sound.

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