Most Prince fans have heard of "The Vault," the fabled storage facility in which the incredibly prolific artist kept all of his unreleased recordings. After the Purple One passed away back in 2016, many were surprised that this so-called 'Vault' wasn’t just a ‘Seinfeld’-style metaphor, but an actual location where his real, physical tapes, cassettes and records were all kept.
So, it’s a real place after all - and it requires a real person to sift through and organize it.
That person, Michael Howe, former record label executive and Prince collaborator, spoke with Vulture this week about the herculean task of digitizing and archiving Prince’s massive catalogue of previously unheard material.
While the numerous materials contained in the vault may be remarkable, the space itself is not. Howe describes it as a "very unsexy environment, a utilitarian sort of space that has everything basically on impenetrable shelves."
This marks the first time that anybody has used the word "unsexy" when describing something related to Prince.
Unfortunately, since Howe had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, he refused to talk numbers, copping only to the fact that it was "less" than a million recordings. Gee, what a scoop.
While the interview was pretty scant when it came to the big, juicy details, Howe did provide some sense of the scope of the work, however, which he said goes as far back the mid 70’s, all the way up to "his most recent recording, because he was working right up until the time he passed away."
"There are things in there that are about as close as you can get to the end of his life as possible."
These archiving efforts have led to the release of a 1983 concert performance entitled "Piano and a Microphone," which came out on Friday. Watch the video for its first single, "Mary Don’t You Weep", below.