“Purple Rain” is a song by Prince and The Revolution. It is the title track from the 1984 album of the same name, which in turn is the soundtrack album for the 1984 film of the same name, and was released as the third single from that album. The song is a combination of rock, R&B, gospel, and orchestral music. It reached number 2 in the United States for two weeks, behind “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!, and it is considered to be one of Prince’s signature songs. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1984, shipping one million units in the United States, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in 2013.
Following Prince’s death in 2016, the song rose to number one on the US and UK iTunes Charts, allowing “Purple Rain” to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17, later reaching number four. It also re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 6, making it two places higher than its original peak of number 8. Originally peaking at number 12 in France, “Purple Rain” reached number one on the national singles chart. In the United States, it has sold an additional 1.18 million copies after becoming available as digital downloads.
“Purple Rain” was originally written as a country song and intended to be a collaboration with Stevie Nicks. According to Nicks, she received a 10-minute instrumental version of the song from Prince with a request to write the lyrics but felt overwhelmed. She said: “I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.'” At a rehearsal, Prince then asked his backing band to try the song: “I want to try something before we go home. It’s mellow.” According to Lisa Coleman, Prince then changed the song after Wendy Melvoin started playing guitar chords to accompany the song: “He was excited to hear it voiced differently. It took it out of that country feeling. Then we all started playing it a bit harder and taking it more seriously. We played it for six hours straight and by the end of that day we had it mostly written and arranged.”
The song was a staple of Prince’s live performances. He played it on nearly every tour since 1984, except for a period after his name change when he avoided his older hits for a few years. At Super Bowl XLI’s halftime show, in which he was the featured performer, “Purple Rain” was featured as the last song of his set and was, appropriately, played during a downpour at the stadium, which when combined with the purple stage lighting created the song’s signature image. Prince performed the song as the opening of a medley of his hits with Beyoncé at the 2004 Grammy Awards, and also at the 2006 Brit Awards. Purple Rain ended up being the final song Prince performed live during his final concert in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14, 2016.
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