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'It's Like My Legacy': Prince's Estate Threatens Designer Of Iconic 'Cloud Guitar'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The local creator of one of Prince's most iconic guitars is fighting to keep his design.

Dave Rusan, of Rusan Guitarworks, has been repairing guitars for nearly four decades. But in the 80s, he got a unique request when an artist named Prince stopped in his shop in Minneapolis.

"He said, 'Prince is gonna make a movie,' and I remember thinking, 'Oh geez, he's going to make a movie. Huh, wow. And he needs a guitar built for the movie, and you're going to make it,'" Rusan said.

That movie, "Purple Rain," become a smash hit -- and the guitar Rusan created would later be known as the "Cloud Guitar." Rusan's career took off.

"All of a sudden it felt like I was in L.A. Every day was exciting," he said. "You know, there were other [Prince-associated] bands, Maserati, The Family. I was doing this and that."

Prince's Cloud Guitar
(credit: CBS)

When Prince died in 2016, Rusan saw a surge of people wanting him to build replicas of the guitar. So, he got it trademarked in February. He says he then received a letter from Paisley Park asking him to give it up.

"I feel it's kind of a David-and-Goliath thing. I'm all alone here trying to make these for fans and enjoy doing it," Rusan said.

He says the guitars are not only a joy but a livelihood. He makes about $8,000 for each one. He says he hopes it does not come to a legal battle.

"It's like my legacy," he said. "It would feel real bad."

Rusan has also done guitar repairs for other famous artists and bands like the Rolling Stones, Sheryl Crow and The Who.

WCCO-TV reached out to representatives for Prince's estate, but they declined to comment.

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