Speed Reads

the little prince

Minnesota news station discovers rare footage of 11-year-old Prince

As he watched archival footage shot in Minneapolis in April 1970, WCCO production manager Matt Liddy was only interested in seeing how the city's landmarks looked back then — that is, until he noticed a very familiar face, belonging to a little boy who would grow up to be a musical icon known the world over.

The footage was taken during a strike by Minneapolis Public Schools educators. Last month, when teachers from the same district went on strike, there was renewed interest in the subject matter, and WCCO pulled the film from its archives. In the footage, several kids are interviewed by a reporter, including one that looked exactly like Prince, who grew up in Minneapolis and was known then as Prince Nelson or by his nickname, "Skipper."

Liddy said he went around the newsroom and asked people who they thought the child looked like, and everyone said Prince. In the interview, the boy is asked for his thoughts on the strike, and he said he thought teachers should "get a better education too" and "get some more money cause they work, they be working extra hours for us and all that stuff." Liddy was hoping the reporter would ask the boy his name, but he never did.

The team at WCCO wanted confirmation of the boy's identity, and tried to locate another student who was interviewed and gave his name as Ronnie Kitchen. They couldn't find him, and asked local historian and Prince fan Kristen Zschomler for help. Films showing the musician as a young boy are rare, she said, and when WCCO showed her the footage, Zschomler was stunned. "Oh my gosh, yeah, I think that's definitely Prince," she said. Prince's junior high was in the background, she told WCCO, and the boy's hairstyle matched how Prince's looked in a photo taken when he was in the sixth grade.

Zschomler then introduced the team to one of Prince's childhood friends, Terrance Jackson, who also performed in his first band, Grand Central. He instantly recognized Kitchen and then exclaimed, "That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That's Skipper! Oh my God!" Once he heard the boy speak, Jackson said, "Wow," and began tearing up.

Even though Prince was just 11 years old at the time, "he was already playing guitar and keys by then, phenomenally," Jackson said. There was no denying it, he told WCCO: The boy in the film was "Prince, aka Skipper to the Northside."