Why Prince’s Sister Tyka Nelson Didn’t Realize He Was a Star
“To me, for a long time, he wasn’t of the caliber of Michael Jackson and Madonna, but the world thought he was,” Nelson admitted to Rolling Stone in a recent interview. “Of course, I thought it was great, it was wonderful, but it was all surreal. Especially going to the Purple Rain movie premiere and seeing Eddie Murphy and all these stars sitting around… I’m still sitting there going, ‘Why did they show up? What are they doing here?’ My brain really never caught up, and if I’m totally honest, I didn’t catch up until about four years before he passed. That’s when I realized my brother was actually a star.”
Nelson suggested that the scale of Prince’s success had passed her by because, as she worked with him, she “had to listen to every song, and every note.” “When I saw this man in action over and over and over – I had no clue,” she confessed.
As a songwriter herself, Nelson was cautious to retain a distance between her career and that of her famous sibling. “I never wanted his name to affect mine. I didn’t want to copy him in any way, shape, or form,” she explained. “I didn’t want him to do anything for me because then [I’d] never know if people liked my music. So I stopped listening to Prince’s music and missed a lot of years, and therefore I didn’t see what the world saw.”
Now Nelson is one of the family members charged with preserving the Prince's legacy, a task she called “easy” because he left clear instructions about what he wanted to happen, and he’d already done so much work at Paisley Park. “All we had to do is kind of pick it up, put it down, and release the vinyl or CD, or help get the picture a little better, or make the audio a little clearer,” she of her brother's posthumous material. “But Prince did the work for us; he preserved it himself.”
When asked about eventually releasing everything from the archive, Nelson was clear. “How dare I not do what this man broke his back to do all his life?," she pondered. "There would be no way that I let one note of his music not ever be heard.”
“As one of the heirs – I can’t speak for all of them – I don’t mind if people hear the small stuff," Nelson explained, noting that, in her opinion, unfinished material is as worthy of release as completed songs. "That might teach some little boy that wants to learn how to put a song together. We never know. Anything and everything, get it out there. If I live 100, 200 years, I would definitely be there helping to oversee getting it out. But Prince’s music will outlive me for sure.”
What Happened to the Artists of Paisley Park Records?