Prince, the global icon rooted in hometown Minneapolis

To millions, Prince was a global icon, but at heart he remained a hometown boy from Minneapolis, nurturing local talent, hosting legendary parties and putting the city on the international music map.

Two days before he was found dead, Prince listened to music at the Dakota Jazz Club, the same venue where he played gigs three years ago that sold out in minutes, and which he frequented often over the years.

On Saturday, he stopped off at Electric Fetus, the independent record store to which he gave exclusive rights to sell his "HITnRUN: Phase Two" album, to show support on Record Store Day and buy a Stevie Wonder CD.

His last tweet was on that day, with a link to the store's website.

A small city by US standards, with a population of less than half a million and where the mercury can plummet 40 degrees below freezing, Minneapolis could not be further removed from the flashy wealth of New York or Los Angeles that sucks up so many musicians and celebrities.

"He looked really nice. He had a nice pair of black pants on, a nice dress-collared black shirt and dress shoes. He looked kind of fancy," said Bob Fuchs, 52, manager of Electric Fetus.

It was the first time Fuchs actually shook Prince's hand, although it was the star's third visit since January. Each time, he phoned ahead to ask if he could stop by and shop.

"He just wanted to make sure there wasn't a big to-do. He really wanted to be under the radar," said Fuchs, adding that Prince loved the name and the vibe of the store, and being able to collaborate locally.

"He didn't want to be the corporate guy, he was very happy to work with a local entity," said Fuchs.

- Huge thing -

Minnesota has been a thriving hub for music, art and theater for decades. Bob Dylan also comes from here, but unlike Prince, as locals like to point out, he quickly took off for New York and beyond.

"He (Prince) stayed here and that's a huge thing," said Lowell Pickett, co-owner of the Dakota and who saw Prince on Tuesday night.

Purple Rain was filmed at the First Avenue club and elsewhere in and around Minneapolis, keeping the real place names putting both Prince and the locality on the map internationally, Pickett said.

"He drew attention to Minneapolis in the international music world and as a result if you made music in Minneapolis, it was more likely that you would get noticed," said Pickett.

He described Prince as an extraordinary talent scout, on top of his artistry as a musician, who helped to nurture their careers and worked with many Minneapolis musicians.

The entire city mourns his loss. Officials have spoken out. Bridges have been lit purple. Thousands of people of every age, color and ethnicity have descended on First Avenue to celebrate his life.

Fans and neighbors recall Prince's legendary free dance parties at Paisley Park. People remember the electricity of seeing him perform live, or bumping into him on the stairs at a gig.

Not only did Prince buck the trend in not running his career from New York or Los Angeles, but he ignored the celebrity penchant for tax havens, balmy weather or life behind gated communities.

Instead, he chose Chanhassen, a small greenbelt town that looks like a business park, to base himself at Paisley Park and keep two homes.

- Part of our home -

A 30-minute drive southwest from the bright lights of Minneapolis, it is friendly and comfortable, but unremarkable and modest.

Fans outside Paisley Park said they grew up with Prince, listened to his music and became accustomed to seeing his purple limo drive around.

"He loved it here," said Cindy Legg, a 41-year-old nurse who went "all the time" to Prince's club Glam Slam when she was in college.

"He used to be there sometimes, and he was always very sweet and kind," she recalled, bringing roses to lay at the makeshift memorial outside Paisley Park.

She never thought of him as a mega star. "He was just Prince and he was from here," she said. "He was part of our home, part of Minnesota."

Sober, modest and not ones to have heads turned by celebrity, Minnesotans returned the compliment of having Prince as a neighbor by not intruding and affording him respect.

"He's our history," said Jean Cunningham, a 66-year-old retired administrative assistant, who remembers watching Prince play with band Time when he was starting out.

"He did a lot of things for the city," she said. "He helped a lot of people, I think, that we don't even know about."

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