Today in Music History August 4

Prince – Purple Rain

1984 Prince’s 6th album, Purple Rain begins a 24 week run at the top of the US album charts.  Think about that for a second – from Aug 4, 1984 through January 12, 1985, Purple Rain was the #1 album in America.  Kind of hard to believe in today’s world where if an album sells 100,000 its first week and then disappears, it’s considered a success.  Of course there was no such thing as streaming in 1984, but still.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller had held the top spot for 15 weeks from the beginning of the year (after being at #1 for 22 weeks in 1983), followed by the Footloose soundtrack for 10 weeks, Sport by Huey Lewis and the News for a week, Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen for 4 weeks, and then it was Prince the rest of the year in January 1985.  As of 2008, it has sold over 25 million copies.

The album, the soundtrack to the film of the same name, and the first with his band The Revolution, spun off two #1 singles ‘When Doves Cry‘ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy‘, the #2 single ‘Purple Rain‘, and the top 10 single ‘I Would Die 4 U‘.  While Prince was already a major star at this point, Purple Rain launched him into the stratosphere, just as Thriller and Born in the USA had done for Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen (and all in the span of the same year).

Before Purple Rain, Prince‘s work had mainly been centered in  R&B and funk – Purple Rain pushed him more into a amalgam of pop, rock, R&B, dance, and psychedelia that blended together produced a classic set of songs and served as a preview of the wide stylistic directions he would take for the remainder of his career.

In 2012, the Library of Congress added Purple Rain to its National Recording Registry, which includes songs that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.”

Here are some videos to remember the album.





Sources: This Day in; Wikipedia’ Billboard; Library of Congress

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