“To me, time folds back on itself”: Prince squirreled away 26 albums’ worth of unreleased music

A true original.
A true original.
Image: Getty Images/Jonathan Danie
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The musical legacy left behind by Prince, who died on Thursday (Apr. 21), might be even richer than previously imagined.

In addition to the 39 studio albums the artist released, his Minnesota mansion is home to a vault of 26 albums’ worth of unpublished music.

“I’ve vaulted so much stuff, going way back to the ’80s, because I didn’t want people to hear it—it wasn’t ready,” the musician told the New York Post last year. “One day I’ll go back and finish it, and it’ll feel like no time has passed. To me, time folds back on itself.”

“It’s an actual bank vault, with a thick door,” Susan Rogers, Prince’s former sound engineer, told the Guardian in 2015 ahead of a BBC radio documentary about the stash of music.

Whether eager fans will be able to listen to the work is another matter. It is unclear who will inherit ownership of Prince’s Paisley Park estate, and Warner Bros.—with whom the musician was engaged in a decades-long battle over the rights of his work—and the estate will need to agree which tracks get released.

Prince’s prolonged dispute with Warner Bros., other music labels, and streaming services over artistic ownership was a defining feature of his career and legacy. To this day, only one Prince song is available on Spotify, after the artist pulled his catalog from major streaming services in 2015.