In a newly-restored news segment, the budding musician calls for better teacher salaries at a 1970 picket line
It goes without saying that Prince’s decades-long career has spawned countless iconic moments, from the stage invasion at fashion week in 2007, to the tour of his Paisley Park estate with Mel B in the late 90s. A newly-unearthed video, however, proves that His Royal Badness was even at it years before he achieved global fame for his music.
Filmed in April 1970, when Prince was a (very cute) 11-year-old, the rare footage revolves around a teachers’ strike in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he attended junior high school. Asked by a reporter whether most kids are in favour of the picketing, Prince – then going by his full name, Prince Rogers Nelson – answers that they are.
“I think they should get a better education too,” the budding musician adds. “And I think they [the teachers] should get some more money because they be working extra hours for us and all that stuff.”
Beyond his prolific musical output, Prince quietly established a vast philanthropic legacy over the course of his decades-long career, and openly supported many social justice causes, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he was already standing up for workers’ rights and education funding as a pre-teen. The actual footage, however, was discovered almost by chance.
Earlier this week (April 5), the Minnesota CBS News affiliate WCCO revealed that it had stumbled across the clip while restoring coverage of the 1970 strike, to add context to the wave of teachers’ strikes that swept across the US in March 2022. WCCO production manager Matt Liddy was the first to spot the proto-superstar, though confirming his identity was a complicated process.
“I immediately went out to the newsroom and started showing people, and saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’” Liddy says in an interview aired by WCCO. “‘Every single person: Prince.’”
Initially, the broadcaster didn’t have the right equipment to hear Prince’s voice, but enlisted a specialist to extract audio of the interview. Even then it wasn’t a sure thing, and the classmates featured alongside him in the segment were impossible to track down. A grainy yearbook photo wasn’t much help either.
In the end, WCCO consulted Twin Cities landmark historian and avid Prince fan Kristen Zschomler, who double-checked his identity based on her own pictures of the musician as a child and the school building shown in the background of the clip. She also contacted an old friend and member of his first band, Grand Central, who confirmed that it is indeed Prince – “AKA Skipper to the Northside” – in the footage.
Watch the restored 1970 clip above.