In the summer of 1984 the soundtrack to ‘Purple Rain’ hit the top of the charts and stayed there for a very long time. The film would come out a month later and quickly become a cult classic and must-see for Prince fans. Nestled in the soundtrack was, of course, the title track opus ‘Purple Rain’ itself. Eight minutes of slow-burn, red-hot emo joy. Here are 20 things you might not know about the unholy triptych.
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Prince initially asked Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for ‘Purple Rain’. “It was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track… I listened to it and I just got scared,” she said. “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.” And so Prince went his own way and ‘Purple Rain’ was born.
‘Purple Rain’ was originally a whopping 11 minutes long. A verse and chorus were cut, apparently because the theme of money was deemed inappropriate. The original lyrics are as follows:
Honey I don’t want your money, no, no.
I don’t even think I want your love.
If I wanted either one I would take your money and,
I want the heavy stuff.
The song was recorded during a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis on August 3, 1983. It was the first time Wendy (who actually wrote the first chords of the song) of Wendy + Lisa played live as part of The Revolution before. I’d say that’s not a bad debut.
Prince was so worried that the song sounded too similar to Journey’s ‘Faithfully’ that he called Jonathan Cain and asked him what he thought. Cain OK’d it because the power ballads only shared a few chords. Bet he’s kicking himself now.
5 The film pulled in an almighty $68,392,977 and only cost $7million to make.
Each verse of ‘Purple Rain’ is about a group of people in The Kid’s life: his parents, Apollonia and his band mates.
The lead female role was supposed to be Prince’s girlfriend Vanity but she left Prince just before filming. After Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) turned down the role, Apollonia 6 was drafted in, and pretty good she was too.
Prince won an Oscar for the now defunct category Best Original Song Score for ‘Purple Rain’ in 1984.
9 The “Purple Rain” soundtrack spent 24 weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard charts although the title track only hit Number 2.
‘Darling Nikki’, one of the songs on the soundtrack, caused a diplomatic incidence when Tipper Gore decided it was way too fruity for children’s ears. “A sex fiend… masturbating with a magazine” led to Parental Advisory stickers.
Fans have been trying to work out the meaning of “purple rain” for decades now. Some believe it’s about the end of the world, a theme Prince was interested in mid-80s. This quote from His Royal Badness suggests the apocalypse wasn’t far from his mind:
When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god”guide you through the purple rain
Prince carried around a big purple note book with sketches, notes and ideas for the script during the 1999 tour. Imagine leaving that on the train.
Rumour has it Morris Day, arguably the star of the film, wasn’t invited to its premiere. He had to rely on Pepe Willie, the founder of funk group 94 East married to Prince’s cousin, to get him a ticket. Ouch.
According to director Albert Magnoli, Prince had a hefty bank of 100 songs for the film and ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Take Me With You’ were not on the original slate. What a genius.
The screenwriter William Blinn wanted to call the film ‘Dreams’ but Prince insisted “purple” was in the title of the film, thank God.
A football club in Frankfurt recently recorded the worst cover of ‘Purple Rain’ ever.
Attention guitar geeks. According to Chopin Gard, life-long Prince fan, Prince played a Hohner MADCAT at the First Avenue gig. It was a cheap copy of the Fender Telecaster and he bought it for $200 at a local Minneapolis guitar shop called Knut Koupe. Fender sued, fought for the production rights and are making a reissue.
It wasn’t reported at the time but Wendy and Lisa were a couple during “Purple Rain’ and for 20 years afterwards.
According to band mate Lisa Coleman, the song symbolises “a new beginning. Purple, the sky at dawn; rain, the cleansing factor.”
The strange, distorted vocals at the end of ‘Darling Nikki’ during the sound of rain storm are an extra verse played backwards (“backmasked”) through a vinyl player:
Hello, how are you?
I’m fine ’cause I know that the Lord is coming soon
Coming, coming soon.”