ST PAUL, Minn. — Years after Prince sang about purple rain, Minnesotans will soon drive on a purple road.
Thursday morning, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill to rename a seven-mile stretch of Highway 5 in Chanhassen and Eden Prairie as "Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway" by a 55-5 vote.
The Senate vote comes nearly two weeks after the House unanimously passed its own version of the bill on the seventh anniversary of Prince's death at his home in Paisley Park. The bill specifies that signs on the stretch of the highway would be purple and installed in the summer of 2023.
Prince's friends and fans are footing the bill, said the lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Julia Coleman, of Waconia.
“Prince was a true genius, a visionary artist who pushed the boundaries of music and cultures in ways that will never be forgotten," Coleman told her fellow senators. "His influence can be heard in the work of countless musicians who came after him, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists to this day.”
Among those watching the Senate vote Thursday was Prince's oldest sister, Sharon Nelson.
Nelson told reporters her brother’s music will live forever and that his spirit “sneaks up on me sometimes.” And she urged fans to take the tour and see his 3,000 shoes on display.
Mark Webster, a Paisley Park security guard, had been pushing to rename Highway 5 after Prince for at least three and a half years.
"What I felt today in the state capitol was 100-percent bipartisanship. Everybody was happy. Everybody wanted this to happen," Webster said after the House vote on April 21. "This is for all the fans, for the people who love Prince. Prince gave a lot to us. This is about giving something back to Prince and honoring him and his legacy."
Webster was among the fans who gathered at the Minnesota Capitol Thursday to celebrate the vote. He said they'll find a date that works for fans soon for the signs to go up.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz before the legislative session ends on May 22.
The singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist broke through in the late 1970s and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He created hits including “Little Red Corvette,” ″Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry,” and sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Several years ago, Prince's 1984 “Purple Rain” was added by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
After a six-year legal battle that consumed tens of millions of dollars, the Internal Revenue Service and the estate administrator put the value of his estate at $156.4 million. Since Prince died without a will, his six surviving siblings at the time of his death were designated as his heirs. The three youngest eventually sold most of their interests to the music company Primary Wave.
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