Prince, Before the Fame, Shown in New Photo Exhibition

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19-year-old Prince captured outside of Schmitt Music in Minneapolis on the eve of releasing his first album 'For You.' (Robert Whitman)

Prince recorded his debut album For You over 40 years ago at the Record Plant in Sausalito. By all accounts, he clashed with the producer hired by the record label throughout the recording and mixing—establishing himself as one with a dedicated musical vision right out of the gate.

Now, the photographer hired by the record label exhibits a small exhibit of photographs of Prince, some never before seen, at a new gallery called Family Affair in the Lower Haight. These images of Prince, at just 19 years old, reveal so much about him as an artist and personality. He’s determined, he’s dripping with style, but he hasn't yet been touched by fame, and it shows.

The photographer, Robert Whitman, gave us a glimpse into what it was like to document the unknown Minneapolis musician in 1977.

“He was very very shy," Whitman said. "I was pretty wild and crazy at the time. We just wanted to make some cool pictures together. When we were shooting on the street I was screaming and, you know, he's kind of shy and he didn't want the whole world to know what he's up to. But everybody on the street stopped and looked, and he was annoyed, but I got a lot of interesting expressions from him. And then at one point he just turned around and gave me the finger.”


Always an original, Prince ultimately decided to use his own photographer for the album—but these images of him are some of our favorites.

Prince: Pre-Fame is up at Family Affair gallery on Haight Street, right next to Groove Merchant records, with a grand opening on Thursday, June 7 (Prince's birthday) and running through July 7. Details here.