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25 years of Purple Rain ... and 10 reasons why Prince's movie remains a classic




Happy 25th anniversary today to Prince and his opus, the 1984 film Purple Rain. Seems like only yesterday we were sneaking into the R-rated flick and then sitting mouths agape during every live music performance during the flick -- especially Computer Blue and Darling Nikki. (Blushes.)

(And sometimes yawning at the tedious dialog and acting between the songs.)

Scoff if you will at the movie, but chances are that you were a teen in the '80s, you still own the soundtrack and know every line to Purple Rain, Computer Blue and When Doves Cry -- even if we still don't know what the hell Prince was singing about.

So ladies and gentlemen ... please welcome ...


10. THE REVOLUTION: Prince assembled the band of a lifetime for this movie -- Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink, Dez Dickerson, Bobby Z, Brown Mark. They were multi-racial, multi-gendered, multi-sexual and could shift seamlessly between blues, rock, R&B, funk and metal. With no apologies to Asia, Band Aid and the Traveling Wilburys, the Revolution was the dream team of '80s music.

Clarence 9. THE ACTORS: That is to say, the lack of actors. Real musicians, club owners and friends played all the roles in the movie except two; Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III (playing Prince's mom and dad) were the only professional actors in the cast.

8. THE OTHER BANDS: Putting the Revolution aside, three other bands dazzled fans during the movie: The Time, Apollonia 6 and the Modernaires (with Dez Dickerson). What would Purple Rain be without Jungle Love, The Bird and Sex Shooter?

7. THE TRIFECTA: At one point during 1984, Prince had the No. 1 movie, No. 1 album and No. 1 single. Five of the nine songs on the soundtrack reached the Top 25.

6. DARLING NIKKI: One of the most memorable songs didn't chart and with good reason: It's completely inappropriate for regular FM radio play. But ask any Purple Rain fan what they love most about the movie, and you're likely to hear them wax poetically about Prince's little S&M tale -- the ultimate "kiss off" song to a lover who wronged him. These days, we all need our own personal Darling Nikkis.

Purple_Rain-morris 5. MORRIS DAY: You can mock the acting skills of Prince and Apollonia all you want. But don't you dare diss Morris Day. He and his BFF Jerome steal the show over and over again. See for yourself, Onionhead!

4. LAKE MINNETONKA: Yes, there is a real Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. And no, that wasn't it when Apollonia strips off her shirt and jumps into the water. And no, we don't mind.

Wendy-and-lisa 3. WENDY & LISA: Though their romantic partnership wasn't entirely clear in the movie, Revolution bandmates Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman showed everyone that homosexuality wasn't a punchline or cliche. Today, they are still musical partners though they're no longer a couple. Their interaction with Prince during the movie remain as enduring moments.

2. THE FINALE: Don't even sit there and lie and say you weren't moved at the end when The Kid dedicates a song to his father, Francis L, and gives Wendy & Lisa credit for writing it. The song builds from Wendy's single guitar strum slowly into a sweeping anthem, capped off when Prince leans over to Wendy, tears running down her face, and kisses her cheek. Cinematic bliss.

1. THE TUNES: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. From the opening lines of Let's Go Crazy to the final swooning chorus of the title track, there is simply no equal to this soundtrack. M.J. will always have Thriller. Prince will always dancing in the Purple Rain.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:48pm]


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