The archives of a news station has unearthed rare footage of the late and legendary American singer-songwriter Prince giving a news interview as a then-unknown 11-year-old boy.
The reel had been tucked away and untouched at CBS Minnesota’s WCCO for 52 years when it dug out the 1970 footage for a story on an educator strike that happened again in the same district in March 2022.
Production Manager Matt Liddy gave the restored video a look, mainly out of personal curiosity.
“I grew up in Minneapolis, so all I cared about was looking at cool old buildings from the place I grew up. Did I recognise my old school? Did I recognise any landmarks?” he said.
But it was when Liddy watched a reporter interview a few kids as teachers picketed in the background that left him speechless.
“I immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people and saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’ And every single person [said] ‘Prince,’” Liddy said.
Prince, full name Prince Rogers Nelson, was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before going on to become a music superstar who is now widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation.
When asked about what he thought about the teachers’ strike, the interviewed boy replied: “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.”
PRINCE AT AGE 11: WCCO stumbled upon a priceless film in our archives while looking through footage of the 1970 Minneapolis teachers strike. See the journey @Jeff_Wagner4 took to solve a Minnesota music mystery. | https://t.co/dz7grOfpQW pic.twitter.com/mnX082M0bc
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) April 4, 2022
But just because the boy looked like baby Prince, was it really him?
The TV station got in touch with an expert, historian Kristen Zschomler, who also happens to be a “dedicated fan” of Prince who had coincidentally also written a 100-page piece outlining the musician’s journey from Minneapolis into international stardom.
Zschomler, who has never seen any footage of Prince as a pre-teen, reportedly gasped when she watched Prince enter the shot in the 1970 strike interview.
“I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince,” she told WCCO. “This definitely looks like Lincoln Junior High School where he would have been attending school in April of 1970.”
She then compared the boy in the footage to what is believed to be a sixth-grade photo of Prince that Zschomler tracked down, and the hairstyle matched exactly.
The final piece of the puzzle was confirmation from a childhood friend Terrance Jackson, who knew Prince from kindergarten, immediately identified his old pal in the found footage.
“That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That’s Skipper! [Prince’s childhood nickname] Oh my God!,” Jackson exclaimed upon watching the digitised video. “I am like blown away. I’m totally blown away.
“He was already playing guitar and keys by then, phenomenally. Music became our sport. Because he was athletic, I was athletic, but we wanted to compete musically.”