Happy 30th Birthday, 'Purple Rain'! 10 Facts About Prince's Legendary Soundtrack

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"Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin'


It's time we all reach out for something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain. 

Prince, "Purple Rain"

When Prince released his Purple Rain soundtrack 30 years ago, the world changed forever. Now a staple of American rock music, Prince's sixth studio album is still considered to be one of the greatest records of all time, and has influenced everyone from OutKast to Janelle Monae. The aforementioned lyrics from the album's title track ended up being quite prophetic the Purple One ended up playing a major role in changing the times by reaching for something new, leading the way by adeptly mixing elements of rock, R&B, heavy metal, and pop on an album that would change the face of popular music forever.

It also spawned an unforgettable movie of the same name (released the month after the album came out), starring Prince himself. Often criticized for being melodramatic and not terribly well-acted, it still became a cult classic, and it featured some of the best concert footage in history.

To celebrate the album's 30th anniversary, here are 10 fascinating facts about Purple Rain:

1. Albert Magnoli, the director and screenwriter of the film, listened to 100 Prince songs before deciding which ones would be in Purple Rain. Magnoli certainly had his pick of the litter, with Prince offering some 100 tracks for him to choose from. "Out of those 100 songs, I chose 11 that defined the thematic elements necessary to enhance the story," Magnoli explained in a Facebook Q&A with fans. Interestingly, "Purple Rain" wasn't among the tracks that he originally chose, and it wasn't until he heard Prince and the Revolution perform a rough version it live that he suggested the song be used as the pivotal moment of the film and complete the album. Prince agreed, and asked if they could name the movie after the song. Magnoli said yes, and the rest, as they say, was history.

2. Purple Rain won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score  a category that no longer exists. In 1985, Purple Rain won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, beating out The Muppets Take Manhattan. When accepting the award, Prince took the stage in a bejeweled purple cloak, flanked by his Revolution bandmates Wendy and Lisa. "This is very unbelievable," he said. "I could have never imagined this in my wildest dreams."

3. Prince originally asked Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for "Purple Rain," but she turned him down. Prince and Stevie Nicks became friends when she wrote a song inspired by his 1999 tune, "Little Red Corvette," which became her huge hit "Stand Back." Prince was so impressed with her abilities, he asked her if she'd write lyrics to an instrumental that ultimately became the foundation for "Purple Rain." "It was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track… I listened to it and I just got scared," Nicks told The Guardian. "I called him back and said, 'I can't do it. I wish I could. It's too much for me.' I'm so glad that I didn't, because he wrote it, and it became 'Purple Rain.'"

Tipper Gore and Susan Baker at a PMRC hearing in 1985 (AP Photo/Lana Harris)
Tipper Gore and Susan Baker at a PMRC hearing in 1985 (AP Photo/Lana Harris)

4. The risqué track "Darling Nikki" is partially responsible for Parental Advisory stickers on albums.

Prince's infamous song, which tells the story of a "sex fiend" who seduces the singer, became famous for its racy lyrics and caused Vice President Al Gore's then-wife, Tipper Gore, to campaign for Parental Advisory stickers on album covers after she heard her daughter listening to the sultry tune. "Darling Nikki" has since been covered by everyone from Rihanna to the Foo Fighters.

5. Prince's favorite meal during the Purple Rain era was spaghetti and orange juice. According to Purple Rain director Magnoli, this was Prince's staple diet when they were working together. He even ordered it at a Denny's restaurant the first time they met.

6. The Purple Rain soundtrack spent 24 weeks at the top of the charts, but the title track only reached No. 2. Purple Rain claimed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for a record-breaking 24 weeks during 1984 and 1985  a feat that wasn't matched until Adele's 21 came along in 2012. Meanwhile, the album's title track only ever reached the second position on the charts.

7. Prince mysteriously removed the bassline from "When Doves Cry." "Doves"  the lead single from Purple Rain  was Prince's very first No. 1 single in America. Strangely enough, it's completely missing a bassline, which is very unusual for a dance track. He reportedly thought the song was too conventional with it intact, and decided to remove it.

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8. Prince always hits his mark. According to Purple Rain producer Robert Cavallo, Prince's live performances for the movie were so spot-on that they were often done in just one or two takes, and his accuracy saved them three weeks of filming. "We were a few weeks behind, and we had four weeks set to shoot the music," Cavallo explained to Spin magazine. "So I said to Prince, 'You know, Albert is gonna want to do 20 takes, he's gonna want different angles.' And Prince, he almost changed color. 'I'll give him one take for each song' [he said], I said, 'No, that's extreme. What if we just did a couple of takes with a bunch of cameras?' We got a bunch of cameramen, and Prince, who's unbelievable, always hit his mark. Within a week, we had done the four weeks' work."

9. "Take Me With U" was originally written for an Apollonia 6 album. The second track on Purple Rain, "Take Me With U"  a duet Prince sings with co-star Apollonia Kotero  was initially slated to appear on an Apollonia 6 album. It later ended up being chosen for the film, which is how it ended up on the album Purple Rain. The Apollonia 6 group performed another song, "Sex Shooter," in the movie.

[Related: Prince Details Funky New Solo Album, Including Apollonia-Inspired Song]

10. Prince and the Revolution debuted the album's title track during a 1983 benefit concert. "Purple Rain" was originally showcased during a 1983 benefit for the Minnesota Dance Theatre, at the First Avenue nightclub in Prince's hometown of Minneapolis. It was also the first time guitarist Wendy Melvoin  who was 19 at the time  had ever performed live with the Revolution. Drummer Bobby Z later said that it was one of the best concerts they ever did. What's more, Bobby Z will be joined by Apollonia and friends later this month at the very same club to perform the Purple Rain soundtrack in its entirety at a benefit concert for the American Heart Association.

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