Toronto Raptors Coach Nick Nurse Is Hunting for Hyper Rare Prince Vinyl
A legendary 1987 release would be a prized piece in Nurse's collection of "about 3500" records
Published Nov 30, 2021Given his instrumental skill, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is also a pretty serious record collector. While his collection reportedly has thousands of titles, one piece of wax he's still digging for is an incredibly rare effort from Prince: his fabled 1987 LP The Black Album.
While the Raptors were in Tennessee to take on the Memphis Grizzlies last week (November 24), Nurse took a trip to the storied city's Memphis Music on historic Beale Street, showing CityTV around his favourite record store.
On this particular dig, Nurse is seen on camera surprised to come across a vinyl pressing of the incredibly elusive Prince title, albeit an unofficial one. For the uninitiated, The Black Album was due to follow Sign o' the Times in 1987. After promotional copies were sent to clubs and DJs, Prince decided to shelve the album only a week ahead of its release.
While the promo copies were largely recalled and destroyed, a select few avoided that fate, allowing The Black Album to be distributed unofficially until the record was given an official, limited release by Warner in 1994. Discogs shows that more recent unofficial vinyl pressings of The Black Album were made following Prince's 2016 passing, though it was given an official digital release via TIDAL that same year.
"Supposedly there's a few that the Warner Brothers execs saved. Like, maybe three of them in existence," Nurse shared with CityTV of his holy grail. "I don't even know what I would do. It's kind of weird, I probably wouldn't be able to open it."
"This album was one of his last, or maybe his last, with Warner Brothers. Right before it was getting ready to come out he had them all destroyed! It's a long story but I didn't know they produced a version of it. I mean, I saw some on eBay and how one of the originals that weren't destroyed went for $35,000."
2016 also saw The Black Album set a record as most expensive record ever sold via the Discogs marketplace, with an original 1987 promo going for $15,000 USD. In 2017, five copies of the album surfaced in the U.S., with one selling for $42,298 USD. In 2018, another copy popped up in Canada when a former record pressing plant employee decided it was time to make a sale.
Nurse shared with CityTV that he has been flipping through the crates at Memphis Music for almost nine years, sharing, "This is the original spot that I kind of started looking for records." He pays the shop a visit each time his team plays in the city on road trips, and is among the famous visitors photographed on the store wall — Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Gary Clark Jr., and fellow NBA coach Gregg Popovich among them.
Other additions Nurse made to his collection of "about 3500" records include titles from Thelonious Monk, the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters and John Prine. Without giving a name, he also revealed to CityTV, "I did buy a rather sizeable jazz collection from a well-known Torontonian, and I thought I could give them a good home."