1994 Prince Cloud GuitarCall For Price
Part one. For those of you who are not from the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis/St. Paul, we will try to explain how the much-copied “Cloud Guitar” came into being. Since Prince’s untimely death Cloud guitars made at his request have seen greatly-increased interest in the market, in part driven by his “stage-used” guitars, selling for $400K to almost $1,000,000. Willie himself worked at Knut-Koupee for 18 months but was not involved in the Cloud Guitar. We would love any further input or corrections from those more closely involved. After talking to many former Knut-Koupee employees etc. this is what we know.
First: Prince was one of the world’s biggest stars. He signed with Warner Brothers at the age of 17. In 1979 the album “Prince” went platinum (he was 21). In 1984 the “Purple Rain” film and soundtrack were released and a star was born.
In the 1980s a store in the Twin Cities with the rather odd name of Knut-Koupee (long story) had a well-established repair and guitar-building shop with an extraordinarily-talented luthier named Dave Rusan. Prince, by now a wealthy superstar had contacted Jeff Hill, the co-owner of Knut, about a wild idea for a dramatic stage guitar.
We have been told that only four of the original Dave Rusan Clouds were made as the painstaking process took months, even with a well-heeled artist impatient to have backup guitars built. World tours are hard on guitars so some of these original Cloud Guitars had to be repainted. Of the originals of the four made by Dave Rusan from scratch ended up in the Smithsonian Museum. One was sold by Willie’s Guitars at Prince’s request for charity. After Prince died this resold for over $400K. One was broken and is believed to remain at Paisley Park to this day. One well-documented stage guitar sold for almost a million dollars. Dave Rusan now has a website and Facebook page that goes into better detail. He offers recreations of those original guitars that he made for Prince.
Prince also had guitars, amps, and keyboards painted by Knut-Koupee (like the purple polka dot Marshall amps and grand piano) but that’s another story.
In part two of our story we’ll talk about the New Power Generation stores that carried Cloud Guitars (stage-ready high-end guitars) made at Prince’s request for sale available at his stores in London, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. As Knut-Koupee had gone away most of those were made by a Seattle builder named Andy Beach. Except one. The one we now offer for sale. More including a video interview with the builder in part two. Again we encourage input from Dave and others involved to get the history correct. More soon.