As one of the most venerated and subversive artists of all-time, who was instrumental in shaping contemporary music as we know it, legendary musician Prince is a national treasure.
The 7-time Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee dabbled in many genres, including funk, soul, and R&B, and a considerable amount of his catalog was rooted in electronic music. Prince's trailblazing use of synthesizers was unparalleled, leading to innumerable seminal tracks that contributed pioneering developments in synth-pop and new wave music.
A Yamaha DX7 synthesizer formerly owned by Prince, which he used to record parts of his fabled 1983 Purple Rain LP, has officially gone up for action. According to official auction site, the "magnificent museum-quality piece of equipment" was the only one of its kind owned by Prince and it is "covered in his handwriting." The instrument is currently owned by an engineer named Shane T. Keller, who purchased it from Prince during his time working at Paisley Park Studios, the private estate and production complex of the late musician.
Keller, who started out as a night receptionist, worked at the studio from 1991 to 1996 and worked his way up to become Prince’s personal recording engineer, eventually purchasing the DX7 synth in 1995 along with his EMAX II sampler and disc collection. "Money was tight as Prince was in his battle with Warner Bros, so there was no outside money coming in for tour support,” Keller said. “Then de facto tour manager, Stuart White, told me about it in passing at the studio.”
"I said I needed a sampler, and Stu replied that I could buy his [Prince’s] EMAX II," Keller continued. "I also wanted a keyboard to trigger the sampler. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a newer keyboard, but I was aware of Prince’s old keyboard in the band tech room on the very back shelf. I knew where it was because he used it the spring before on the Purple Medley. Stuart agreed, and I made the cash purchase of both the EMAX II and Prince’s DX7.”
Prince fans can make their bids here, but they'd better be ready to pay a pretty penny, as the synth is expected to fetch north of $25,000. In addition to the DX7, many of Prince's other belongings are also up for auction, including his EMAX II sampler, a tambourine used during the 1987 MTV Music Awards, and handwritten lyrics and sketches. The auction is set to conclude this Thursday, June 18th at 7PM ET (4PM PST)