2/11/2014 48 Comments
Never-before seen shots of a 17-year-old Prince are to be exhibited for the first time as part of a touring display that will launch in Los Angeles later this month (Feb14).
Photographer Robert Whitman's shots from his three 1977 sessions with Prince, which really capture the artist as a young man on the verge of superstardom, have been locked away - until now.
Whitman, now in his 60s, was just starting out as a commercial photographer in his native Minneapolis, Minnesota when he got the call to shoot music producer Owen Husney's new local discovery for a pitch to record companies.
He tells Wenn, "I didn't know anything about him and he was shy and I was nervous. I knew he was going to do something big when they played me his track Soft & Wet and he performed at his studio. I got goosebumps.
"The shots were for Prince's first press kit. We only used a few of the shots and created just 15 kits."
Prince and the photographer teamed up for their first session at Whitman's studio in a Minneapolis ice-cream factory.
He recalls, "I had no idea what I was doing - I had Prince kneeling by this awful furniture and blowing bubbles. I was trying everything I could think of."
But Prince never forgot his first photographer: "About 10 years later I was on the phone at LaGuardia Airport (in New York) and Prince walked by and said, 'Whitman, how are you?'"
The snapper became an in-demand fine art photographer and he filed away his Prince shots, only occasionally showing them off to friends who showed an interest in the star.
He adds, "I had not even thought of them and then I started to think about what to do with my archive and I discovered this young agent, called Jesse Blatt, who came to the studio, took one look at these Prince shots and started talking about a touring exhibition. It's very exciting."
The collection will debut at Hollywood's Mr. Musichead gallery on 20 February (14). The exhibition will run for a month.
© Robert Whitman