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Prince: Let’s Go Crazy in the 35th Purple Rain Anniversary

Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution

Prince: Purple Rain 35th Anniversary Coming

Upon June 25, 2019, we will embark upon the 35th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution by Prince Rogers Nelson, belovingly known as Prince.

The opening track on the Purple Rain album was “Let’s Go Crazy” and I am gradually coming to the conclusion that maybe Prince’s intention of a fun, upbeat,  dance tune would ultimately be a timeless mantra throughout this thing we call life.

Had someone told me in 1984,  35 years ago,  that I would be writing and analyzing Prince on a vinyl records blog,  I would have thought they were crazy!  Now, I suspect there are a fair amount of people who think I am! They may be right, and I may be crazy, but I just may be the lunatic you were looking for!

But, I digress… maybe we’ll get to Billy Joel another day. 🙂

Prince Rogers Nelson before he became Prince

As a middle school and high school student,  Prince Rogers Nelson was bullied and ridiculed by peers.  At a diminutive height of 5′ 4″, he was an easy target for bullies,  but early accounts indicate he was not afraid to throw a good punch and run and when necessary.  Secondly,  he was a speedy basketball player in middle school and played some ball in the early years of high school before transferring to a different school with “taller talent”, if you will.

His father maintained a day job,  but played music at night and never did quite give up on his dream of playing music for a living as a piano player, influenced by the likes of Duke Ellington and Thelonius Monk.  His mother, Mattie,  was a singer, but gave up her musical aspirations with the hardship of motherhood and an impoverished family.   To her credit, she did eventually continued her education and earned a masters degree in social work.

Prince’s parents split up when he was 13 and bounced back and forth between living with his mom and dad.  One day, when his dad came home to find him in bed with a young girl,  he put young Prince on the street where he cried in a phone booth for hours until someone rescued him and brought him to a relative’s home.   Said phone booth was near a McDonald’s restaurant where the smell of hamburgers he could not afford initially contributed to his resolve and determination to overcome his poverty.  Prince’s plan was to overcome hardship and adversity through music,  but not just music in and of itself.  His collective goal, was to manifest himself into a superstar!  His hero was Jimi Hendrix, and borrowed from the eccentric guitar riffs, but Prince had every intention of implementing musical ideas from Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Psychedelic hippy sh@@, Disco, etc.   A Star is Born…

One of Prince’s future keyboard players at this time, Lisa Coleman, thought it was cute that he had a poster of the movie  “A Star it Born” featuring Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand on his wall when they began their collaboration.

The Ascension of Prince

Prince’s first album, “For you” had limited success,  was way over budget,  and probably made Warner Brothers executive nervous.  Despite their best efforts,  they wanted to “pigeonhole” Prince into something he was not,  a black, R&B / disco artist. The reality was, Prince was inspired by all genres and musicians of all persuasions.  He refused to be labeled or characterized as “black” and made it crystal clear to record executives in the late 1970s that he would write music to cater to a much more diverse population.

His second album, simply named “Prince” featured his first number #1 hit in Soul Charts with “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, which reached #11 on the Pop Charts in 1979.  With sales of the single surpassing 500,000, and radio stations all around the country playing it,  this tune became Prince’s first gold-certified record.

As the “Prince” album itself was fast approaching 500,000 sales, the executives at Warner Brothers were finally on board with Prince’s vision and realize the potential for future commercial success.  They were now ready to invest in his first tour, having previously denied him.

Prince’s first televised national appearance was on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”.  Once on camera, Prince informed the band that he would not verbally answer any of Clark’s questions and instructed the bank to do the same.

1.) He wanted it to be all about the music

2.) He wanted to create an aura of allusive mysteriousness (these are my words – if they make sense) to make viewers wonder what was going on and was in his head.

Dick Clark never forgot the awkwardness of that “banter less” episode and continued to relay the story for the rest of his days.

Controversy

As time went on, Prince went on to write about a lot of weird and controversial sh@@.  He wrote songs with crazy sexual themes,  including sleeping with his sister.  He wrote about politics with a tune entitled, “Ronnie, Talk to Russia”, to encourage peace talks between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. At this time, Prince paraded around in trench coats with nothing on other than black briefs,  periodically exposing his lack of clothing.

Prince thrived on shock value and his third record, appropriately entitled “Controversy” fit the bill of where he was in life,  but the project also presented tracks that were more authentic, less synthesized, and rooted in traditional Jazz, R&B, and Rock and Roll.   The trip is, every now and then, Prince will throw out at a tradional sounding tune in between crazy, “in your face”,  new tunes using the latest technology.

Basically, Prince always wanted to be “edgy” and push accepted norms to the limits musically and fashionably, all the while referencing multiple genres of music and mashing them into his own sound.

Purple Rain

Dearly beloved, for the sake of brevity, let’s fast-forward three albums to Purple Rain which was the second effort with Prince and the Revolution and became one of the top selling albums of all time.  The first track, “Let’s Go Crazy”, was one of Prince’s most popular tunes.

The title track and last track on the album, “Purple Rain“, is arguably his most popular song, which in fact inspired the movie of the same name.

In 2012, the Purple Rain Album by Prince was added to National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Conclusion

In the vast catalog Prince has left us, there are some tracks that stand the test of time as radio favorites we will never forget. There are others with sexual innuendo from a challenged youth with enough synthesized orchestral bursts (cutting edge technology at the time) that sound a bit cheesy and overdone in hindsight.

Notwithstanding, the greatness is recognized and appreciated here.  There is great joy in the tunes we are comfortable with.  Prince contributed to a camaraderie among people of all walks of life who enjoy music, very much like a winning NFL team does in a united city.

In the end, Prince achieved what he always longed for a child, to be loved and appreciated.

24 thoughts on “Prince: Let’s Go Crazy in the 35th Purple Rain Anniversary

  1. Hi NATHANG,

    This is an excellent representation of the 35th Purple Rain Anniversary. I have heard from one of my friend that Purple rain is popular for it’s national achievement. I have not got a copy yet but soon I am going to buy one album for me. Let’s celebrate together of the 35th Purple Rain Anniversary. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mzakapon!  Whether or not there is an official celebration of Purple Raind this summer remains to be seen, but as I revisit this album and other works Prince has offered, I am impressed with the diversity of styles he pulled from to create his musical contributions.   

  2. Yeah. Prince was a really great musician and a successful one at that. Reading this made me understand that once you have a passion, stick to it without compromise and don’t listen to the naysayers. Even though his first album wasn’t so successful, he went on and kept pushing. I love prince. 

    1. Glad you mentioned that, Dhayours!  Yesterday, I made a video for a company and used the determination of Prince and the struggle he overcame to inspire the viewers to stick to it and follow their dreams.  

  3. Hello,

    I have seen articles about the Purple Rain too but you have provided us with more detailed write-up on the artiste and his background story, so as we awaits June 25, 2019, when we will embark upon the 35th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution by Prince Rogers Nelson, I can’t wait but to get my own copy of it. Thank for the write-up

    1. Thank you, Salim!  For me, it brings back lots of memories from a wonderful time in life!  I am glad you enjoyed the article and hope you enjoy the album more!  

  4. what a great review though i have never had about prince, but he is a pretty much of a superstar based on what he believes is right about music and not just about making money. Those are the true values of music. with what prince has experienced had given him the opportunity to tell the world his story and by this he better understands the pain of the kids in the streets. i look forward to attending the 35th anniversary of purple rain

    1. Hey Agobr, at this point, I am not sure if there will be an official celebration of the 35th anniversary of Purple Rain, but rest assured, we will do so here and you are certainly invited to pop back in!

  5. I have know prince for not so long but the few numbers that I’do know they are great music well done and we’ll prepared for his music  so I will vagree with you Prince was a great performer and he made sure all his music went around to all genre that is what a great artists does appeal across the divide and that what makes them great

  6. Prince was truly a very controversial character but you can take nothing away from his music. From the purple rain album my favourite is actually when doves cry but my all time best from prince is nothing compares to you. Legendary musician, perhaps his generation did not deserve his talents.

    1. Good call, Louis!  I love that tune as well!  Today, I heard prince sing it live with Rosie Gaines.  I was familiar with the radio version by Sine’ad O’Connor, but the live back and forth between Prince and Gaines was off the chart or off the chain, or however you want to say it was TOTALLY AWESOME!  Thanks, my man!  

  7. Big congrats on the purple rain 35th anniversary,it addition to the national congress library is a huge achievement and is worth celebrating .the purple rain track which is the last track on the album is a great one and everyone loves it. I will check out the full album on iTunes. 

    1. Thanks Clement.  I did the very same today at Planet Fitness in Algiers (New Orleans), Louisiana.  Prince brought me up and slowed me down.  Now that I think about it, maybe I should recommend it as an exercise record as well! 🙂  Kinda kidding, but ya never know… 

  8. Hi Nathan, I enjoyed your site so much! A music and record buff, you put your heart and soul into it. This is a wonderful niche, love it! love it! love it! Ode to the vinyls, I do reminisce. I do agree, music brings joy, relaxation, takes you back to the past and sometimes has you wondering what music holds for the future in an ever changing world. Thanks for a great share.

    Virginia

    1. Thank you so much, Virginia!  

      You found me out!  You figued out my motive!  

      Smile, have fun, enjoy life, get along, don’t stress, sing, dance, be happy! 🙂  

  9. Prince is one of my homies. I was born and raised in International Falls, which is about as far north from the Twin Cities as you can get before hitting Canada. I have listened to his music since I was a young lad, and followed him to now, even after his unfortunate passing.

    Both he and I were and are avid Minnesota Vikings fans, so there is another connection that brought our mindset together. I love music, played three instruments as a kid, played in a band, and loved to entertain people. There is the point where our destiny’s part, however.

    I joined the military at 17 and gave up on music, I remained a fan of the Vikings, of course, as did Prince, but the one thing that kept Prince in my mind, no matter where I was in the world, over and above the fan connection, was his music. The release of that album 35 years ago was immediately added to my collection.

    I am talking LP here, not any tape or cd, etc. The original album. It is one of many from those years that I still have in my possession, and one I still listen to every once in a while. Because I want to keep it as pristine as possible, I do not pull it out much.

    I really enjoyed this post about one of my absolute favorite singer and musician ever. Thanks for the memories, truly Prince is more than a prince, he is right up there with the king (Elvis) in my mind!

    1. You are the man, Dave!  I appreciate you revisiting here.  As a kid, my favorite quarterback was Archie Manning and I remember him playing with the Vikings for a short spell after the Saints.  

      Elvis was the king of Rock and Roll and Michael Jackson was the king of pop, but Prince certainly elevated himself to the king of something. 

      I don’t know, how about the King of Ecclecticism??? 

  10. The Purple rain movie and album are classics .I can definitely see the influence in Jimi hendrix style and uniqueness in Prince .Each men had brought to the musical entertainment field that you do not see today in some artists that push the envelope and are actually really talented who make memorable timeless music .Alot props goes out to Jimi Hendrix and Prince respectfully .

    1. Well Eric, my girlfriend’s son is left-handed, but has played guitar right-handed up to now.
      For Christmas, he received a left-handed, sunburst, Jimi Hendrix replica Stratocaster as he
      has recently become a huge fan. I suppose I will have to introduce him to Prince soon.
      Thanks for your comments.

  11. Excellent biography of Prince and there are a lot of things about him I never knew nor would’ve guessed. His tale is definitely one that’s inspiring, especially for those who may be struggling at this moment. What an inspiration to many Prince was. His story is something anyone can take something from and implement it in their own lives as they pursue their own passions.

  12. I remember the early days of Prince. He was popular at a very controversial time in music and he fit right in. I was in high school when he became popular, but his is a story I never really followed. Thanks for this rundown on how he got started.

    1. Hi Kelli, thank your for stoppin’ buy. I remember a friend from grade school and high school with the last name of Tomko. Part of my objective here is to bring smiles to readers’ faces by reminiscing of days gone by. You just did that for me and I appreciate your comments!

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