New Prince Album Announced, Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The first posthumous album of unheard Prince music is set to arrive on Sept. 28, the chief custodian of his archive announced. The news was revealed during a turbulent week in which arguments over blame for Prince’s death and the safety of his Paisley Park vault resurfaced.
The news of the upcoming album follows last week's release of a previously unreleased version of “Nothing Compares 2 U." Troy Carter, who’s charged with looking after the material recovered from Paisley Park, told Variety that "the last year was really about information collecting."
"Meeting with various partners, meeting with the heirs and [estate executor] Comerica and figuring out what partners we need to bring on to help execute that vision," he explained. "First and foremost, it was about organizing the vault and finding out what music exists, what footage exists, photos, personal notes, letters. Prince basically saved everything, so there are decades of music and video and artifacts, but it takes long time to go through each one of those and research the historical context. Where is this from, who did he collaborate with, where was it recorded, what year, was it the final version?"
Carter noted that "Nothing Compares 2 U" was "the first piece of music to come from our collaboration with the estate." "Now we’re working on a release for the fall — a full-length album. Michael Howe, who’s been working with us on the archive, has done a tremendous job of finding some special pieces of work, and one of the pieces that he found, all of us fell in love with it and decided this was special enough for fans to hear. So we’re putting the final touches on it — it’ll come in the fall. ... After the excitement around [‘Nothing Compares 2 U’], we felt, ‘Let’s give the fans something else this year.’”
The new album will be “time specific,” Carter said, rather than a compilation of material from across the archive. He added that Prince had written down “his thoughts and plans and how he ran his business, so he pretty much left a blueprint of how things should go.”
When executors Comerica decided to remove the giant archive from Paisley Park, Prince's surviving relatives objected. But because Prince left no will, his executors have the authority to do what they feel is best, and legal action to prevent the move failed.
Now a series of pictures appear to suggest that Comerica was right when it decided material was at risk if it remained in Prince’s basement bank vault. The vault contains enough music to release 100 albums, piles of cash and old studio equipment, as well as signs of potentially dangerous wear and crushed storage material. Prince's longtime engineer Susan Rogers told the Guardian that when she left Prince’s employment in 1987, the vault was almost completely full.
“Certain things happen with age,” Carter told Variety. “But [archive partners] Iron Mountain is probably one of the best in the world at restoration, so they basically have any machine that was ever invented for recording, and they have proprietary ways of being able to restore tape. So we haven’t run across any real issues in terms of the condition of material.” You can see photos from the vault below.
In addition to all this activity involving Prince's music, a new lawsuit has been filed, this one apparently a response to the recent announcement by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office that no criminal charges would be coming as a result of Prince’s death of a drug overdose in April 2016.
The New York Times reports that Prince’s family, via trustee Michael A. Zimmer, charged an Illinois hospital with a wrongful death, alleging that its failure while treating an overdose the week before Prince took a fatal dose amounted to criminal failure of duty. “What happened to Prince is happening to families across America," the family said in a statement. "The family wishes through its investigation to shed light on this epidemic and how to better the fight to save lives. If Prince’s death helps save lives, then all was not lost.”
Meanwhile, plans are underway to take Prince’s handwritten notes and lyrics and turn them into a collector’s book, TMZ said. This follows the announcement of an official biography Prince had submitted 50 handwritten pages for shortly before his death.