The arc of Prince's evolution told by two suburbanites

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

One knew Prince Rogers Nelson, who died suddenly on April 21 at the age of 57, as a spunky point guard with a big heart, if only a little brawn; the other knew him as the private superstar cloistered in the shell of Paisley Park. 

Al Nuness, who played basketball in the 1960s at nearby Proviso East High School in Maywood before going on to play at the University of Minnesota, was Prince's high school basketball coach. Nuness described Prince as quick, an able defender and a good passer. Of course, the teenager was better at music — he was already playing at least four instruments back then, Nuness said.

Proviso East graduate Sam Jennings went to work for the Purple One several years after graduating high school in 1989. Jennings grew up adoring "Purple Rain," before an online fan club, and his web design skills, brought him into the artist's orbit. By then, Prince had grown into his mysterious own, replete with caged doves that made constant noises, recalled Jennings, who had office space within the Paisley Park complex.

Michael Romain


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