On this day in music history: July 27, 1984 - “Purple Rain” opens in US movie theaters. It is the feature film debut of music icon Prince, co-starring Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III. The film directed by Albert Magnoli, and produced by Robert Cavallo, Stephen Fargnoli and Joseph Ruffalo (Prince’s management team), is the semi autobiographical account of musicians rise to fame. Prince develops ideas for the story prior to and during the “1999 Triple Threat” Tour" (circa 1982 - early 1983). He enlists the help of veteran television and film writer William Blinn (“Eight Is Enough”, “Roots”) and director Magnoli to craft his ideas into the final script. Filmed on a modest budget of only $7 million, it is shot on location in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, CA between November - December 1983. Released through Warner Bros, the film opens on 917 screens across the US. “Purple Rain” tops the box office chart in its first weekend of release, taking in $7,766,201 (knocking “Ghostbusters” from the number one spot), going on to gross more than $68 million domestically during its original theatrical run (more than $80 million currently). In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros announces that “Purple Rain” will be made available as a sell through home video release (on VHS, Beta, and Laserdisc) list priced at $29.95, rather than as a rental (normally list priced at $79.95), in time for the 1984 Christmas holiday season. The move proves to be a brilliant decision as the film sells in then record numbers for a home video title, becoming one of the best selling titles in the history of Warner Home Video. The films soundtrack wins Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in March of 1985.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1981 - “Bella Donna”, the debut solo album by Stevie Nicks is released. Produced by Jimmy Iovine and Tom Petty, it is recorded at Goodnight L.A. Studios in Van Nuys, CA, Record One, and Studio 55 in Hollywood, CA from Autumn 1980 - Spring 1981. The first solo album by the Fleetwood Mac singer and songwriter, it features guest appearances by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Don Henley. Nicks actually begins writing and demoing material for the album as early as the sessions for Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” in 1979. Over the next year, Nicks writes more than two dozen songs before it is pared down to the final ten tracks included on the finished album. Some of the songs later surface on other projects (“Gypsy” on FM’s “Mirage”, “Sleeping Angel” on the “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” soundtrack in 1982, and “I Sing For The Things” on Nicks’ “Rock A Little” in 1985). Three other songs from the recording sessions “The Dealer (aka Mistress Of My Fate)”, and “If You Were My Love” are released on the compilation “24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault” in September of 2014. Other material from the sessions remain unreleased to this day. The album spins off four hit singles including “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (#3 Pop), “Edge Of Seventeen (Just Like The White Winged Dove)” (#11 Pop), and “Leather And Lace” (#6 Pop). “Bella Donna” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.