First Avenue: Fans remember Prince at iconic club

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Prince died on Thursday. He was 57

Fans gathered at First Avenue in Minneapolis to remember him

Minneapolis, Minnesota CNN  — 

Hours after learning of pop icon Prince’s death, hundreds of fans – many wearing purple – shut down the street in front of the famous First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis for an all-night dance party.

Some cried as they sang songs and shared stories. They talked about how much Prince meant to them and how he showed the music industry that you don’t need to be from the East or West coast to make it big.

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The downtown music venue helped launch the careers of many local musicians, including Prince, and was featured extensively in the movie “Purple Rain.”

A testament to his popularity, the gathered fans ranged in age from their 20s to 80s.

Here are some of their thoughts:

Allison Werthmann-Radnich choked up as she remembered Prince.

“Memories of Prince and his music are the background and cornerstone of pretty much every important event in my life. Prom, weddings, New Year’s Eve celebrations, concerts at First Avenue. His music was incredible. It was heartfelt. It was youthful and funky and rock ‘n roll all in one.

“He was an artist that I looked up to because he never compromised his artistic integrity and that was really inspiring for me. And he had success because of it and not in spite of it.

“When I heard (the news of his death) it was like the finality of a giant chapter of my life knowing that there would be no more music.

“I actually looked at my two-and-a-half year old son Oscar and thought ‘he’s never going to see him perform.’ That was one of my first thoughts – My kid isn’t going to see this amazing musician perform live.

“He was the soul of the music scene of Minneapolis for so many years – it spanned decades – because he loved this city and produced here and brought business here and made movies here.

“He kept the Minneapolis music scene alive. He put it on the map. He helped launch and maintain careers that otherwise would’ve gone to the coasts.

“We look back at this amazing man’s life and all the work that he did and share our memories, celebrate what he did and be inspired by him.”

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Stacie Vassar drove downtown when she heard the news. “I wasn’t going to miss this,” she said.

“He’s my childhood. I shed many tears today. I have fond memories jamming to his music. It seems so surreal.

“You know he’s up there smiling down on this,” she said, referencing the hundreds of people out in the street celebrating.

Prince dead at 57

43-year-old Joelle Erikson says she grew up on the music of Prince and is in shock he’s gone.

“He’s the fabric of this city when it comes to music,” she said. “There’s no Minneapolis sound without talking about him. I just don’t even know what we can do to thank him for all he’s done for us. I’m just so, so, so sad tonight. But I’m going to try and celebrate. Celebrate his life”

Heather Kerfeld from Albertville, Minnesota, has been a lifelong fan.

“I remember dancing in my bedroom as a little girl. He’s always been the soundtrack to our lives. I thought he would outlive us all.”