Prince was seen as an 11-year-old voicing support for striking Minnesota teachers in 1970 – in archival footage newly unearthed by a TV station covering a recent strike in the same district.
“I think they should get some more money, ’cause they be working extra hours for us, and all that stuff,” the future pop superstar tells a reporter, smiling, while surrounded by pals in the April 1970 clip aired by WCCO.
The youngster — who was born Prince Rogers Nelson — was recognized by the CBS affiliate’s production manager, Matt Liddy, who watched the 13-minute video, which was restored for a piece on a teachers’ strike in March.
“I grew up in Minneapolis, so all I cared about was looking at cool old buildings from the place I grew up. Did I recognize my old school? Did I recognize any landmarks?”
His curiosity was piqued when he noticed the boy, who he believed was the future pop icon from Minneapolis.
“I immediately just 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?’ And every single person [said] ‘Prince,’” Liddy told the outlet.
But the reporter never asked the kid his name, so a little digging was needed to confirm his identity.
Another boy identified himself as Ronnie Kitchen in the clip – but efforts to track down someone by that name were unsuccessful.
The break came when the station found Kristen Zschomler, a professional historian, archeologist and researchers who also happens to be a fan of the late singer.
“They called him Skipper,” Zschomler told WCCO as she showed the station a family photo of Prince as a toddler. “I’ve written a big document sort of outlining his historic journey from Minneapolis’ northside to Paisley Park and the world.”
When shown the video of the precocious preteen, she gasped, according to the report.
“I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh! Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince,” Zschomler said. “This definitely looks like Lincoln Junior High School, where he would have been attending school in April of 1970.”
She added: “There’s so much in his mannerisms and his eyes and everything that he looks like him.”
The Prince Connoisseur then connected the TV station with Terrance Jackson, a childhood friend and former neighbor who was also in the singer’s first band, Grand Central, as teens.
“We go far back as kindergarten at John Hay Elementary in north Minneapolis,” Jackson told WCCO.
“Oh my God, that’s Kitchen,” Jackson exclaimed. “That is Prince! Standing right there with the hat on, right? That’s Skipper! Oh my God!”
He said he was “totally blown away” by the sight of his former friend, who died on April 21, 2016, from an accidental overdose of fentanyl at the age of 57.
“He was already playing guitar and keys by then, phenomenally,” Jackson said. “Music became our sport. Because he was athletic, I was athletic, but we wanted to compete musically.”
Zschomler said: “I think just seeing Prince as a young child in his neighborhood school, you know, it really helps ground him to that Minneapolis connection.
“Even if they’re momentary glimpses into what Minneapolis meant to him, what he stood up for when he lived in Minneapolis, just helps understand that symbiotic connection he had to his hometown,” he added.