In 1977, a local musician named Prince Rogers Nelson came to the attention of Minneapolis music agent/manager Owen Husney and his partner Gary Levinson. Upon hearing his music, Husney and Levinson immediately signed the 19 year old to a management contract and set about securing a record deal for the young musician.
To entice photographer Robert Whitman to take photographs of Prince for a press kit aimed at potential record companies, Levinson came by Whitman’s apartment and played him one song on his car stereo... an early version of “Soft and Wet”. Husney and Levinson then booked Prince into the Sound 80 Studios to work on recording a demo and Whitman came on board to make photographs of this young artist, who would one day become one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.
These photographs were created during three separate photoshoots that Whitman made of Prince during 1977. Whitman photographed Prince in his Minneapolis studio, Owen Husney’s Linden Hills Boulevard home and on the street of downtown Minneapolis, including in front of the mural of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony painted on the side of the Schmitt’s Music store. Only 15 copies of the press kit were ever produced and otherwise, the photographs from these session have rarely been seen.
These photographs are new, never-before-seen selects made by the photographer in 2013 from the three shoots taken in 1977. These pictures, Prince’s first with a professional photographer, mark an instrumental moment in his career. The creation of the style and persona that has come to define the artist known as PRINCE.
About Robert Whitman
Whitman’s interest in photography developed out of his love of the cinema, which drove him East from Minneapolis to New York.
Robert Whitman’s pictures reflect a man who lives openly, passionately and simple. His pictures capture a youthful and sexy energy that has become his trademark. He displays a unique talent for capturing movement, whether he is working in the controlled atmosphere of the studio for top advertising and editorial clients, or simply walking down the street with camera in hand.
His photographs are the footprints of a man on the move, and it’s more often than not that he looks to the street itself for his subjects.
He currently lives in TriBeca.