The original 1983 unit is believed to be the only one Prince ever owned, and can be heard all over his classic 1984 album Purple Rain. The synthesiser is also covered in stickers denoting various patches, with Prince’s own handwriting indicating which patches were used for songs like ‘Kiss’ and ‘Let’s Work’, as well as a ‘Fink Man’ sticker on the back, implying the keyboard may have been used on tour by Prince’s keyboardist Dr. Fink.
The fabled digital synthesiser is now owned by Shane Keller, who worked as a night receptionist and personal recording engineer for Prince’s Paisley Park Studios between 1991 and 1996. He says that he purchased the DX7 and Prince’s E-MU EMAX II sampler keyboard and floppy disk collection (which is also up for auction) off the Purple One in 1995, where Prince was forced to sell off a bunch of old gear to fund his Japanese tour amid record label drama.
“Money was tight as Prince was in his battle with Warner Bros, so there was no outside money coming in for tour support,” Keller explained in a statement. “Then defacto tour manager, Stuart White, told me about it in passing at the studio. I said I needed a sampler, and Stu replied that I could buy his (Prince’s) EMAX II.
“I also wanted a keyboard to trigger the sampler. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a newer keyboard, but I was aware of Prince’s old keyboard in the band tech room on the very back shelf.I knew where it was because he used it the spring before on the ‘Purple Medley’. Stuart agreed, and I made the cash purchase of both the EMAX II and Prince’s DX7.
“When we were working on the ‘Purple Medley’, Prince asked me, ‘Can you get my DX7?’. I had to look for it, so that is how I knew where it was later in the year during the fire sale. His handwriting is all over it, and he assumed ownership of it when I brought it into Studio A. Indeed, it was his, and I saw him play it.”
If you’re keen to take a punt on the synth or Prince’s E-MU EMAX II, you’ll have to be quick – the auction ends tomorrow. There’s also a number of other Prince paraphenallia up for grabs in the sale, including his sketchbook with handwritten lyrics, cufflinks, signed copies of LPs, and a tambourine.
Check out the full auction lot here.