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‘Purple Rain’ has been around for 40 years. Here are all the ways to celebrate Prince’s unique masterpiece – Twin Cities

The man born 66 years ago this month as Prince Rogers Nelson entered 1984 as a mysterious, budding star, enveloping it as a global phenomenon whose influence remains visible today across genres and generations.

“Purple Rain,” both the film and the soundtrack, served as Prince’s vehicle to reach such great heights and as such, the Twin Cities are celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Purple Rain” in countless ways, from free dance parties to live performances. into an impressive new book full of rare photos and new interviews that shed further light on the unique creativity of the Purple One.

After signing a recording contract at age 19 that gave him creative control over his music, Prince spent the early years of his career establishing himself as both a musical genius and a provocative, androgynous weirdo who wrote sexually explicit songs and performed it in a style that was part Little Richard, part James Brown, part Jimi Hendrix.

In 1983, the mainstream began to catch up with Prince, thanks in large part to his double album ‘1999’ and its hat-trick of hits including the title track ‘Little Red Corvette’ and ‘Delirious’. But Prince wasn’t one to take the easy road from there. He insisted that his then-manager Robert Cavallo get him a leading role in a studio film.

What ultimately emerged was “Purple Rain,” a loosely autobiographical film set in and around his hometown of Minneapolis. Filming took place largely in Minnesota in late 1983, including the 25 days when Prince’s team took over First Avenue, home of the film’s many memorable concert scenes, showcasing the Purple One’s otherworldly talents as a musician and entertainer. (Looking at it today, it’s hard not to recoil—at least a little—from the physical demands Prince placed on himself that ultimately led to the damage to his body and his life-threatening addiction to painkillers.)

The stark, bassless single “When Doves Cry” set the stage for the arrival of “Purple Rain” in the summer of 1984. The film grossed ten times its $7.2 million budget, while the soundtrack spent 24 weeks at No. 1 . the Billboard 200, sold 25 million copies worldwide and won two Grammys and an Oscar. It helped cement the concept of the Minneapolis Sound, a groove haunted by everyone from Janet Jackson to Fine Young Cannibals.

Prince closed out 1984 with a five-show victory lap tour at the late St. Paul Civic Center in late December. Although he could have easily continued the success of “Purple Rain” for another year or two, Prince defied expectations and broke new ground from there.

Prince may have been allergic to nostalgia, but his fans certainly aren’t. With that in mind, here are some ways to celebrate the man and his extraordinary achievements from that fateful twelve months some forty years ago.

View ‘Purple Rain’

Somewhat surprisingly, “Purple Rain” is not currently streaming on any of the major services. Those who don’t mind seeing ads can watch it for free on Pluto TV. Major sites like Amazon Prime and Apple TV offer rentals for around $4 and purchases for around $8.

For those who want to relive 1984 in pristine quality, Warner Bros. the film will be released on 4K Blu-ray on June 25.

Celebrate Prince on the street

The free Prince Celebration Block Party will take place on June 22 from noon to 5pm outside the Prince Mural at 101 N. Ninth St. in downtown Minneapolis. The event includes music, an art installation, food vendors and lots of dancing. Revelers are invited to wear their favorite Prince gear and celebrate all things purple.

Attend celebration

As always, the annual Celebration at Paisley Park and venues throughout downtown Minneapolis features live music (Morris Day, the Revolution, New Power Generation), celebrity panels, access to exclusive concert footage and custom tours of the famed home and studio of Prince. It’s a great opportunity to dive deep into all things Prince and meet fellow fans from across the country and even the world. The events run from June 20 to 24, but everything comes at a high price.

Fans arrive for day two of Celebration 2018 at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota on Friday, April 20, 2018. (Courtesy of Steve Parke / Paisley Park Studios)
Fans arrive for day two of Celebration 2018 at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota on Friday, April 20, 2018. (Courtesy of Steve Parke / Paisley Park Studios)

General admission is $750, while VIP tickets cost a whopping $1,350. See paisleypark.com for more information.

That said, there are a number of events and spin-offs available at more reasonable prices, including:

  • Prince’s most famous band, The Revolution, headlines First Avenue, the world-famous club where much of “Purple Rain” was filmed; 7pm June 22; $199-$99; first-avenue.com.
  • Prince Celebration 2024: Single Day Pass, including a panel discussion, exclusive concert footage and a high-definition screening of “Purple Rain”; 10:30 a.m. June 21, 10 a.m. June 22; State Theater; $130 (or $210 for both days); ticketmaster.com.
  • Prince Celebration 2024: Morris Day and New Power Generation live with special guests; 10pm June 22; State Theater; $180; ticketmaster.com.

Check out Dr.’s combo. Mambo

Dr. Mambo’s Combo has performed weekly at Bunkers Music Bar and Grill since 1987 and was a favorite of Prince, who enjoyed the group’s deft performances of soul, rock and R&B. The band’s current lineup includes some names familiar to Prince fans: Julius Collins and Margaret Cox on vocals, Sonny Thompson on bass, Brian Ziemniak on keys, Geoff LeCrone on guitar and Peter Suttman on drums.

This special concert, called Forever In My Life: A Birthday Tribute to Prince, features a collection of songs from Prince’s many eras and styles, as well as songs he wrote for other artists. 6:30 PM June 19; Parkway Theater; $40 (in advance), $45 (at the door); theparkwaytheater.com.

Enjoy ‘Prince and Purple Rain’

Local music journalist Andrea Swensson has spent much of her time since Prince’s death delving into all aspects of his life, writing liner notes for reissues, hosting the official Prince podcast and working on the recently published coffee table book ‘Prince and Purple Rain’.

Actually, it’s a bit of a disservice to call this handsome tome a coffee table book, as it goes much deeper than most such books, which favor flash over substance.

In her introduction she aptly calls it ‘a love letter to Prince and Purple Rain’. She covers Prince’s early days, his career leading up to ‘Purple Rain’ and its cultural impact through a series of candid interviews, sharp insights and endless photographs. It’s the perfect keepsake for anyone who lived through 1984 and for anyone who wants to know what they missed.