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Top three Season 6 RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Adore Delano retired her popular cover of “Purple Rain” after last year’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons” concert tour – but after learning of Prince’s tragic death this past Thursday, she was compelled to revive the song for that evening’s sold-out BOTS show in San Francisco.
“I was on the tour bus, sleeping, and [the other queens] woke me up and said I had to sing ‘Purple Rain’ that night, saying, ‘Prince just died!’ I was in shock. But [show hostess] Michelle Visage said, ‘It’s not even a question, girl. You’re doing it,’” Adore tells Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks.
That night, the Artist Formerly Known as Danny Noriega from American Idol put on some purple lipstick and a raincoat, and belted a simple, emotional rendition of Prince’s classic ballad at the Regency Ballroom in front of a glowing purple neon outline of a bleeding heart; she reprised the powerful, crowd-pleasing number the following night at Anaheim’s Grove venue. “It’s my favorite song to sing, it really is,” she says. “It’s a song I’ve known since I was a baby. It’s like an ‘I Will Always Love You’ kind of jam… The song is so iconic. It’s cool to see the older fans have mad respect [for my version], since the song’s before my time.”
A photo posted by Adore Delano (@adoredelano) on Apr 21, 2016 at 7:45pm PDT
Reveals Adore: “The song originally spoke to me in a really personal way, even before Prince dying. That whole genre and time of music just reminds me of my dad [who passed away in 2014]. My dad always said, ‘There’s only a few great ones,’ and Prince was definitely one of the greats. Then ‘Purple Rain’ took on new meaning when I had broken up with my ex and I did a show in his hometown and sang it. It was just a really crazy moment, and that’s always a memory when I’m singing it as well. Now it has even more meaning, of course.”
“Purple Rain” is not the first salute to a recently deceased rock legend during this year’s BOTS tour: On select dates, Season 4 winner Sharon Needles, in a vibrant orange Ziggy Stardust wig and one-shouldered onesie, has dramatically performed David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Prince and Bowie obviously have more in common than being two incredibly talented icons who left us too soon this year: Both flamboyant artists daringly played with androgyny, gender roles, and theatricality, which makes their material perfect fare for a drag revue.
“It was just the concept of beauty, and color. Nothing was fear-driven,” says Adore of the ‘70s/’80s era in which Prince and Bowie ruled. “Everything was so experimental – the music as well as the looks. They added so many sounds to their songs, adding and adding and adding, and the result were these brilliant masterpieces.”
As for Adore’s opinion on Prince’s imagery specifically, she says, “He was amazing, visually beautiful to look at,” and says her all-time favorite Prince look is “just him naked, in a thong, with that blown-out, feathered, Farrah Fawcett hair. It’s just stunning. There’s something so simple about it, but so iconic. Every time I think of the greatness of Prince, that era is in my mind.”
Adore is uncertain if “Purple Rain” will remain a staple of her set on the remaining 2016 BOTS tourdates; when asked if there’s any other Prince cover she might consider, she semi-jokes, “Probably ‘Erotic City’ – in a thong! That’d be awesome. But I don’t think I have the guts.”
The RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons tour runs through July 6 in the U.S. and Australia, with various alumni from past Drag Race seasons performing onstage, and beGlammed makeup artists providing “face-beating” drag makeovers in the lobby for that ultimate Adore-able, Prince-appropriate, glam slam look – purple lipstick optional.