Backstage With Paul: Prince’s Birthday Party

By now Paul Natkin’s work was speaking for itself. Gone were the days of calling EVERY magazine on the planet to get an assignment. Getting into a local Chicago concert as a photographer for the evening was no longer in doubt. What Paul captured through his lens was in high demand and there were times when that demand took him to some pretty incredible settings…

“In June of 1984, I started one of the greatest months of my life. I got a call early in the month from Prince’s publicist asking me if I would like to photograph Prince’s birthday party (June 7,1984) in Minneapolis. It was being held at First Avenue, the scene of his recently released movie and record, Purple Rain. I took a gamble, figuring that there would be about 100 photographers in a scrum at the front of the stage.

I arrived at the venue and found out that I was the only photographer allowed in the building. I stood right in front of the stage (about three feet away from Prince) and shot from beginning to end. I never got to meet him, but he was posing for me throughout. I flew home the next day, got the film processed, and sent it to my agent. Those images ended up on about 5o magazine covers around the world, along with many pictures in the countless biographies that came out that year.

Prince went into seclusion from that day till Thanksgiving of that year, and I was the only person in the world who had pictures of him looking like he did in the film.”


 About Paul Natkin

Paul Natkin learned photography in the trenches, working  with his father, the team photographer of the Chicago Bulls. He shot sports in the Chicago area for five years before he discovered music photography in 1976.

Since then, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and magazine covers for Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen), Ebony (Tina Turner), People (Prince), and music magazines around the world. See his work online at

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Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz is the Artist Relations Manager at Shure. He enjoys weekends, tacos and has a soft spot for the kind of lite rock music you’d hear in a dentist’s office.

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