Rare footage of the late and legendary American singer-songwriter Prince giving a news interview as a then-unknown 11-year-old child has been discovered in the archives of a Minnesota news station.
A Familiar Face in the News Report
When looking closely at the 13 minutes of digitized video, however, WCCO Production Manager Matt Liddy spotted an unexpected face among the schoolchildren the reporter had interviewed as teachers picketed next to the school
“I grew up in Minneapolis, so all I cared about was looking at cool old buildings from the place I grew up. Did I recognize my old school? Did I recognize any landmarks?” Liddy tells WCCO. “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,’”
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
The problem, however, was that the reporter did not ask the interviewed boy to state his name for the camera, so WCCO launched an investigation to determine whether or not it was actually a young Prince Nelson in the footage.
An Investigation Into the Boy’s Identity
After attempting to track down another boy interviewed in the old footage and hitting a dead end, the TV station finally got in touch with an expert, professional historian and archeologist Kristen Zschomler, who also happens to be a “dedicated fan” of Prince who has written a document of over 100 pages outlining the musician’s journey from Minneapolis into international stardom.
Zschomler, who has never seen any footage of Prince as a pre-teen, 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.”
The investigation then compared the boy in the footage to what is believed to be a sixth-grade photo of Prince that Zschomler produced, and the hairstyle matched exactly.
The final piece of the puzzle was confirmation from a childhood friend named Terrance Jackson, whom Zschomler investigators connect with. 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 digitized 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.”
And just like that, the mystery was solved, and the world now has an extremely rare and unexpected glimpse into the childhood of one of the greatest musicians ever to pick up a guitar.