Purple Rain (album)

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Purple Rain
Studio album / soundtrack by
ReleasedJune 25, 1984 (1984-June-25)
RecordedAugust 1983 – March 1984
StudioFirst Avenue
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)
The Warehouse
(St. Louis Park, Minnesota)
Record Plant
(New York City)
Sunset Sound
(Hollywood, California)
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerPrince and the Revolution
Prince chronology
Purple Rain
Around the World in a Day
Singles from Purple Rain
  1. "When Doves Cry"
    Released: May 16, 1984
  2. "Let's Go Crazy"
    Released: July 18, 1984
  3. "Purple Rain"
    Released: September 26, 1984
  4. "I Would Die 4 U"
    Released: November 28, 1984
  5. "Take Me with U"
    Released: January 25, 1985

Purple Rain is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Prince, the second to feature his band the Revolution, and is the soundtrack to the 1984 film of the same name. It was released on June 25, 1984 by Warner Bros. Records. The first two singles from the album, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy", topped the US singles charts, and were hits around the world, while the title track went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified 13-times platinum (diamond) by the RIAA.[3] As of 2008, it has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, making it the third-best-selling soundtrack album of all time.[4] Purple Rain is regularly ranked among the best albums in music history and is widely regarded as Prince's magnum opus along with his 1987 double album Sign o' the Times.

In 2012, the album was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important".[5]


Purple Rain was released by Warner Bros. Records on June 25, 1984. Prince wrote all of the songs on the album, some with the input of fellow band members. "I Would Die 4 U", "Baby I'm a Star" and "Purple Rain" were recorded live from a show on August 3, 1983, at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, with overdubs and edits added later. This marked the first time Prince included live recordings on any release.[citation needed] The show was a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater and featured the first appearance of guitarist Wendy Melvoin in Prince's band, The Revolution.

"Take Me with U" was intended for the Apollonia 6 album with Jill Jones on backing vocals[according to whom?], but Prince pulled it for his own album and according to Matt Fink, Prince reportedly played all the instruments on the song save for the string overdubs.[6] "Let's Go Crazy" was also recorded with The Revolution while an unreleased version of "Computer Blue" clocking in at 14 minutes was a full band studio recording as well with various cuts some that are at least 14min long.[citation needed] "The Beautiful Ones", "Darling Nikki" and "When Doves Cry" are all Prince recordings.


Purple Rain was the first Prince album recorded with and officially credited to his backing group The Revolution. The resulting album was musically denser than Prince's previous one-man albums, emphasizing full band performances, and multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, icy electronic synthesizer effects, drum machines, and other instruments. Musically, Purple Rain remained grounded in the R&B elements of Prince's previous work while demonstrating a more pronounced rock feel in its grooves and emphasis on guitar showmanship.

As a soundtrack record, much of the music had a grandiose, synthesized, and even—by some evaluations—a psychedelic sheen to the production and performances. The music on Purple Rain is generally regarded as the most pop-oriented of Prince's career, though a number of elements point towards the more experimental records Prince would release after Purple Rain. As with many massive crossover albums, Purple Rain's consolidation of myriad styles, from pop rock to R&B to dance, is generally acknowledged to account in part for its enormous popularity.

In addition to the record's breakthrough sales, music critics noted the innovative and experimental aspects of the soundtrack's music, most famously on the spare, bass-less "When Doves Cry".[7] Other aspects of the music, especially its synthesis of electronic elements with organic instrumentation and full-band performances (some, as noted above, recorded live) along with its landmark consolidation of rock and R&B, were identified by critics as distinguishing, even experimental factors. Stephen Erlewine of AllMusic writes that Purple Rain finds Prince "consolidating his funk and R&B roots while moving boldly into pop, rock, and heavy metal," as well as "push[ing] heavily into psychedelia" under the influence of the Revolution.[8] Erlewine identifies the record's nine songs as "uncompromising ... forays into pop" and "stylistic experiments", echoing general sentiment that Purple Rain's music represented Prince at his most popular without forsaking his experimental bent.[8]

"Take Me with U" was written for the Apollonia 6 album, but later enlisted for Purple Rain.[9] The inclusion of that song necessitated cuts to the suite-like "Computer Blue", the full version of which did not earn an official release, although a portion of the second section can be heard in the film Purple Rain, in a sequence where Prince walks in on the men of The Revolution rehearsing. The risqué lyrics of "Darling Nikki" contributed to the use of Parental Advisory stickers and imprints on album covers that were the record label's answer to complaints from Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center.[10][11][1]

"There's every emotion from the ballad to the rocker," observed Jon Bon Jovi. "All the influences were evident, from Hendrix to Chic."[12]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[8]
Blender4/5 stars[13]
Chicago Sun-Times4/4 stars[14]
Christgau's Record GuideA−[15]
Entertainment WeeklyB[16]
The Guardian5/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[20]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[21]

Prince and the Revolution won a 1984 Grammy Award for Purple Rain, for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal,[22] the four composers (Nelson, Coleman, Prince, and Melvoin) won Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media,[23] and the album was nominated for Album of the Year. Prince won a third Grammy that year for Best R&B Song for Chaka Khan's cover of "I Feel for You". Purple Rain also won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985.

In the United States the album debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 the week of July 14, 1984 with approximately 1.5 million copies sold.[24][25] After four weeks on chart, it reached number one on August 4, 1984.[26] According to Billboard magazine, the album spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard albums chart (August 4, 1984 to January 18, 1985), and more than 32 weeks in the top 10, becoming one of the top soundtracks ever.[citation needed] Purple Rain traded the #1 album chart position with Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. twice, during 1984 and 1985.[citation needed] Purple Rain was present on the Billboard 200 for one hundred twenty two weeks.[27] The album was certified 13 times platinum by the RIAA on May 16, 1996 for shipments of thirteen million units.[3] After the advent of the Nielsen SoundScan era in 1991, the album sold a further 3,107,000 copies.[28]

In the week following Prince's death, the album sold 69,000 equivalent copies (62,000 in pure album sales), thus allowing the album to re-enter the Billboard 200 at number 2.[29] The next week it dropped to number three with 150,000 units sold.[30]

In the United Kingdom the album entered at number 21 on July 21, 1984, after thirty five weeks on the chart it reached and peaked at number seven during the week of March 16, 1985 and stayed there for a week, it fell off to number twelve the next week.[31] The album remained on the chart for 86 weeks.[31] It was certified two times platinum by the BPI on May 1, 1990 denoting shipments of 600,000 units.[32]

The album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.[4] The album further established him as a figurehead for pop music of the 1980s.[28]

Singles from the album became pop hits worldwide, with Prince scoring four US Top 10 singles from the album. Of them, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" reached #1, "Purple Rain" reached #2, and "I Would Die 4 U" reached #8. The fifth and final single "Take Me with U" reached #25, but became a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, meaning all Purple Rain singles became worldwide hits.

All five singles off the album became worldwide hits, and with the success of the massively successful movie of the same name and tour, Prince would become one of the most recognizable music artists worldwide, comparable to Michael Jackson and Madonna. Time magazine ranked it the 15th greatest album of all time in 1993, and it placed 18th on VH1's Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time countdown. Rolling Stone ranked it the second-best album of the 1980s and 76th on their list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2007, the editors of Vanity Fair labeled it the best soundtrack of all time, and Tempo magazine named it the greatest album of the 1980s.[33] In 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed Purple Rain at number one on their list of the top 100 best albums of the previous 25 years.[34] In 2013, the magazine also listed the album at number two on their list of the 100 Greatest Albums ever.[35] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #2 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller.[36]

Purple Rain sold over 1.5 million copies its first week in stores, and sold over 13 million copies in the United States alone, with a total of 25 million copies sold worldwide.[37][38]April 2016, the album re-charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 after Prince's death, selling over 69,000 copies in the following week,[39] and one of the best-selling albums of the year in the US with 487,000 sold in 2016.[40] According to Billboard, within less than a month after Prince's death, four of the top ten songs on the Hot Rock Songs belonged to tracks off Purple Rain, with the title track coming in at No. 1.[41] Purple Rain posthumously won Soundtrack of the Year at the American Music Awards in 2016.[42] Purple Rain was the thirteenth best selling album of 2016 with 487,000 album sales.[43] After a deluxe edition was released in 2017, Purple Rain re-entered many top-ten charts around the world including the US, UK and Austria. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 with 52,000 copies sold.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Prince, except where noted.

Side one
1."Let's Go Crazy"4:39
2."Take Me with U"3:54
3."The Beautiful Ones"5:13
4."Computer Blue" (Prince, John L. Nelson, Wendy & Lisa; uncredited: Dr. Fink)3:59
5."Darling Nikki"4:14
Side two
6."When Doves Cry"5:54
7."I Would Die 4 U"2:49
8."Baby I'm a Star"4:24
9."Purple Rain"8:41

Deluxe and Deluxe Expanded editions[edit]

The album was released as a Deluxe and Deluxe Expanded edition on June 23, 2017. The Deluxe edition consists of two discs, the first being a remaster of the original album made in 2015 overseen by Prince himself and a bonus disc of previously unreleased songs called "From the Vault & Previously Unreleased". The Deluxe Expanded edition consists of two more discs, a disc with all the single edits, maxi-single edits and B-sides from the Purple Rain era and a DVD with a concert from the Purple Rain Tour filmed in Syracuse, New York on March 30, 1985, previously released on home video in 1985.[44]


Early configurations[edit]

Prince configured at least two unique track listings of Purple Rain prior to setting the final running order.[45] November 7, 1983 and March 12, 1984 configurations are listed below. The early configuration included "Wednesday" (a song by Prince with Jill Jones) and "Father's Song". The latter was replaced by "When Doves Cry". Edits to "Let's Go Crazy" and "Computer Blue" were introduced in order to include "Take Me with U" in the final running configuration. The full length version of "Let's Go Crazy", as it can be seen in the movie, would later be released as "Special Dance Mix" on 12" maxi-single.


  1. "When Doves Cry"
  2. "17 Days"
  • "Let's Go Crazy" (US #1, US R&B #1, US Dance #1, UK #7, Australia #10)
  1. "Let's Go Crazy"
  2. "Erotic City"
  1. "Purple Rain"
  2. "God" (vocal)
  3. "God" (instrumental) — UK version only
  1. "I Would Die 4 U"
  2. "Another Lonely Christmas"
  1. "Take Me with U"
  2. "Baby I'm a Star"
  • "Let's Go Crazy" and "Take Me with U" were released as a double A-side single in the UK in 1985.



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[83] 6× Platinum 600,000^
France (SNEP)[84] Platinum 338,600[85]
Germany (BVMI)[86] 3× Gold 750,000^
Japan 197,000[52]
Netherlands (NVPI)[87] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[88] 5× Platinum 75,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[89] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[90] 13× Platinum 13,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]