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A local television station reviewing archival footage made an accidental and fascinating discovery: A TV interview with beloved and iconic superstar musician Prince Rogers Nelson at age 11 that apparently took place outside of Lincoln Junior High School in his Minneapolis hometown.
CBS Minneapolis affiliate WCCO was sifting through a reel about coverage of an April 1970 teachers’ strike in the city as a way to give context to a similar work stoppage that occurred in April of this year.
WCCO Production Manager Matt Liddy and his colleagues concluded that the youngster on film was the young future star, Prince. The station subsequently had to call in a specialist to extract the audio.
In the clip, the then-unidentified youngster says that most of the kids were in favor of the picketing, and added that “I think they should get a better education too cause, um, and I think they should get some more money cause they work, they be working extra hours for us and all that stuff.”
(Video: WCCO CBS Minnesota)
As alluded to above, the 1970 report did not include the kid’s name, so WCCO had to go through some extensive detective work to verify that he was actually Prince, which included unsuccessfully trying to track down another student who was interviewed at the same time.
The station subsequently contacted professional Twin Cities-area historian/archeologist and Prince expert Kristen Zschomler, who also revealed that Prince’s pre-teen nickname was Skipper.
Upon viewing the clip for the first time, she said “I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince.” She also noted that the boy’s mannerisms and eyes suggested that he was Prince. Zschomler’s material included an apparent six-grade picture of Prince which resembled the youngster in the video.
Zschomler put WCCO reporter Jeff Wagner in touch with Terrance Jackson, Prince’s friend all the way back to kindergarten and member of his first band. Watching the clip, Jackson admitted that he was “totally blown away.”
“That’s Prince, a.k.a. Skipper to the Northside,” he said. “You guys have found a real gem.” Added his wife Rhoda Jackson, who was also a childhood friend, “It’s just amazing to see him that small, that young, and hear his voice.”
“I think just seeing Prince as a young child in his neighborhood school, you know, it helps really ground him to that Minneapolis connection,” historian Zschomler explained. “Even if they’re momentary glimpses into what Minneapolis meant to him, what he stood up for when he lived in Minneapolis, just helps understand that symbiotic connection he had to his hometown.”
The prolific and versatile Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with a massive fan base tragically passed away at age 57 in April 2016, reportedly from an accidental fentanyl overdose.
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