Ultra-rare footage of an 11-year-old Prince emerges in archive news report

Prince’s vault - a secure room at his Paisley Park studio complex - is said to contain thousands of unreleased recordings, and has become the stuff of legend. However, a new archive treat for Prince fans has emerged from a different source, and gives an ultra-rare glimpse of how the Minneapolis music megastar looked and sounded as a child.

The footage - which shows Prince aged 11 - was uncovered by WCCO, a local Minneapolis TV station owned by CBS. What’s more, it was discovered completely by accident.

Production manager Matt Liddy was going through news footage of Minneapolis school strikes from April 1970, which was to be used to provide context for a story on similar industrial action that took place last month. While analysing the archive film, Liddy suddenly got a glimpse of a boy who looked strangely familiar.

Excited by his find, Liddy asked colleagues who they thought the boy was, without revealing his own suspicions. It was unanimously agreed that it was Prince, so WCCO anchor Jeff Wagner then set out to find someone who could confirm the child’s identity.

Wagner showed the footage, complete with restored audio, to music historian and Prince fan Kristen Zschomler, who said that video of pre-teen Prince is pretty much non-existent. She felt sure that it was him in the clip - and verified that the school featured was the one that Prince attended - but further proof was required.

So, Zschomler connected WCCO with Terrance Jackson, a childhood friend and neighbour of Prince who also played with him in his first band, Grand Central, when they were teenagers. “That’s Skipper!” he exclaimed on seeing the footage, using Prince’s nickname of the time, before welling-up as he heard Prince speak.

Jackson confirmed that, at the time the footage was captured, Prince was already a “phenomenal” guitar and keyboard player.

The report shows Prince discussing the school strikes - he says that he believes that the teachers should be paid more money because of the long hours they work.

Fast-forward 15 years and Prince was on stage in Syracuse being filmed on his Purple Rain tour in 1985. This gig is set to be released on 3 June as a new boxset - Prince and The Revolution: Live - which will be available as both a 3-LP package and a 2-CD/Blu-ray bundle.

As a further bonus, the companion album will also be made available on music streaming services in spatial audio/Dolby Atmos, a first for a Prince release.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.