We are gathered here today to celebrate that thirty years ago this summer Prince released the album and movie “Purple Rain.” The summer of 1984 was when Prince decided, “Yeah, I think it’s about time I become a mega star and rock everyone’s world.” And rocked it he did. Even if you hate all of Prince’s other music (even the staunchest Prince supporters will admit that his song “3 Chains O’ Gold” pretty much blows chunks), you cannot deny the utter brilliance of that album or that movie.
Before that summer Prince was more of a cultural oddity than a bona fide star. Though a darling with the critics, he had released five albums with varying degrees of success and not a whole lot of radio airplay until “Little Red Corvette” popped out of his dirty mind. He even opened for The Rolling Stones and was booed – twice. So it’s safe to say that before that no one was thinking Prince was going to be a rock icon, let alone a movie star. (Well, except for maybe his Royal Badness himself.)
Then he dropped both the film and the movie at the same time and the rest was history. But maybe you don’t know all of the history behind “Purple Rain.” So in honor of this thirty-year anniversary, here are a few delicious nuggets of trivia you might not know from the time when Prince showered us with all of his purple glory. (At least I didn’t say “golden.”)
* The original title of the movie was “Dreams” but Prince changed it to “Purple Rain,” which was a smart move because “Dreams” sounds like a soft-core porn movie from the late 1980s starring Lorenzo Lamas and Nicolette Sheridan.
* Promoting his “1999” album, Prince was touring with his band, mostly doing small-sized venues. At the same time Bob Seger, the epitome of Middle America rock and roll with such hits as “Like A Rock” and “Old Time Rock And A Roll,” was touring at the same time but he was playing to sold-out stadiums. When Prince complained to his keyboardist Matt Fink about this, Fink (you know, the guy dressed as a surgeon) said that Seger wrote anthems and that if you want to play stadiums you need an anthem. And thus, the song “Purple Rain” was born.
* The symbol that Prince changed his name to when he went slightly crazy in the 1990s is actually painted on the side of his motorcycle he used in the movie. (A bike he actually rode himself – cause he is a bad mofo.)
* “When Doves Cry” has no bass line – it is just one synthesizer, one drum machine, and one scorching guitar solo. Prince took the bass line out of the song during one of the final mixes. Why? Because he’s Prince, a musical genius. He also insisted that “When Doves Cry” should be the first single dropped, despite the insistence of execs over at Warner Brothers who thought it was too weird and wanted “Baby I’m A Star” released first. (Proving once again that most music execs don’t know dick about music.)
* Originally Prince cast his girlfriend Vanity in the lead role. But because casting your girlfriend in anything is always a bad idea, it didn’t work out. He then tried to cast Jennifer Beals from “Flashdance” fame, but when she said no he settled for Appolonia.
* The beginning of “Computer Blue” where Wendy and Lisa talk about “the water being warm enough” was a last minute addition to the song that Prince wrote on a piece of scrap paper and then handed to the two before recording started. Neither Wendy nor Lisa, nor any of us for that matter, know what it means.
* Apparently Morris Day was completely coked out of his mind during the entire shoot and had to be coxed into being on set. And yet, he is probably the most memorable part of the whole film. So maybe cocaine does have some positive aspects to it?
* The backwards message at the end of “Darling Nikki” is Prince singing, “Hello, how are you? I’m fine ’cause I know that the Lord is coming soon. Coming, coming soon.” It actually sounds way better backwards.
May U Live 2 See The Dawn.