Longtime Prince musical director estimates he lost at least $100K in equipment during fire

Longtime Prince musical director Morris Hayes lost many of his possessions in a house fire on September 14, 2019. (Media Savant Communications / FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul)

A talented musician, who served for years in Prince's band, suffered a big loss last week. A fire at his home in Arkansas destroyed his studio and a great amount of equipment. Now, he is left picking up the pieces. 

"I had one keyboard alone that’s worth $30,000," said Morris Hayes. "It’s like 24-karat gold and it was in there."

More than a week later, Morris Hayes is still sorting through the ashes. He's still trying to take stock of what was lost in a family house that destroyed so much of his studio and unique music-making collection.

"Even now when someone is talking to me and I mention something, I’m like 'oh, my God. Oh, my God, that was in there. Oh man.'"

Hayes, Prince’s longtime musical director and keyboard player, was in Minnesota preparing for a New Power Generation concert in Maple Grove when the blaze broke out.

"Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of keyboarding equipment," he explained. "Instead of drugs and cars, I put my money into gear."

He estimates the losses are at least $100,000 in terms of what is replaceable. But, he acknowledges some of what went up in flames is one-of-a-kind.

Even so, Hayes remains focused on the positive including upcoming shows and recording sessions with his NPG bandmates. At the same time, a fan-driven GoFundMe effort has quickly surpassed its initial $25,000 goal.

Morris Hayes house fire2

Morris Hayes,who worked with Prince for more than 20 years, lost his home studio in a fire. (Media Savant Communications)

"Bro, I know a lot of fans like me," he said. "I love the fans. I figured that much. But, I had no clue it would be like this so quickly and so amazingly, to do what they did. I’ve had a few teary days on that. Wow, just the outpouring of love."

The fire came not long after Hayes had moved a lot of his belongings back to Arkansas to be closer to his elderly parents who are in failing health. But, he says the fire didn't get to one item with plenty of sentimental and actual value: Gold bars that were given to him by Prince himself.