On this day in music history: June 25, 1984 - “Purple Rain”, the sixth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at First Avenue (w/ mobile recording truck) in Minneapolis, MN, The Warehouse in St. Louis Park, MN, The Record Plant in New York, NY, and Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA from August 1983 - March 1984. Serving as the soundtrack to Prince’s motion picture debut, it is the first album officially credited to Prince & The Revolution. Recording of the music for the film will begin on August 3, 1983 when Prince & The Revolution perform a live benefit show at the famed nightclub First Avenue in Minneapolis. The performance will mark the debut of new guitarist Wendy Melvoin to the band, with the master versions of “I Would Die 4 U” (#8 Pop, #11 R&B), “Baby I’m A Star” and the title track being recorded at this show. These performances will appear on the finished album with only minimal post production overdubbing afterward. The film and album’s rousing opener “Let’s Go Crazy” (#1 Pop and R&B) will be recorded at Prince’s rehearsal space “The Warehouse”, after Prince asks recording engineer Susan Rogers to pull the recording console and 24-track tape machine out of his home studio, and install it in the rehearsal space. The basic track will be cut live in spite of having no isolation between the musicians, and electric interference from various appliances in the building. The track “Take Me With U” (#25 Pop, #40 R&B), the artist’s duet with Apollonia Kotero is originally slated to appear on Apollonia 6’s eponymously titled album, but Prince will change his mind and include it on “Purple Rain”. Prior to the album’s release, it will go through a couple of different running orders, including longer versions of “Let’s Go Crazy” (released as a 12" single in August of 1984), “Computer Blue” (still officially unreleased but has been widely bootlegged), and the instrumental “Father’s Song”. Original LP copies will be packaged with a poster of Prince & The Revolution (photo taken during the band video shoot for “When Doves Cry”), with limited number of US promotional copies (some commercial copies in foreign territories) being pressed on purple vinyl. Released four weeks ahead of the film, the soundtrack will be an instant critical and commercial smash, launching Prince into worldwide superstardom. The album will spin off a total of five singles including “When Doves Cry” (#1 Pop and R&B), and the title track (#2 Pop and #4 R&B), becoming the sixth best selling soundtrack album of all time. It will also win two Grammy Awards including Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in 1985. “Purple Rain” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2011, and in 2012 will be added to the National Recording Registry by The Library Of Congress for its “ongoing cultural and historic importance”. “Purple Rain” will spend twenty four consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, nineteen consecutive weeks at number one on the R&B album chart, and is certified 13x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
This city’s sleeping like a soldier trapped inside of an iron lung. Machines can keep you breathing but what happens when you find a new war’s begun? Flip a switch and turn it off, you won’t be able to breathe. So either way you’re a casualty.
I’ve got this burning like my veins are filled with nothing but gasoline. And with a spark it’s gonna be the biggest fire they’ve ever seen. Cut me down or let me run, Either way it’s all gonna burn… The only way that they’ll ever learn We’ve got to turn it off
Flip a switch
Light up the night! There is a city that this darkness can’t hide. There are the embers of a fire that’s gone out, But I can still feel the heat on my skin This mess we’re in, well you and I, Maybe you and I, We can still make it right. Maybe we can bring back the light.
The world has always needed healing music. It’s sounded different every decade, but it’s always shared similar elements: simple songwriting, honest lyrics and a performer with a spiritual need to sing. The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a prominent St. Louis pastor, writer, organizer and now musician, understands this poignantly.
“Music, I like to think of it as medicine — it can heal us,” Sekou told Mic, discussing his debut, Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost’s The Revolution Has Come.
Sekou was on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, for the early days of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city in August 2014. His “Holy Ghost” and close collaborator, Jay-Marie Hill, a genderqueer woman of color, survivor, activist and musician, has similarly made her presence felt in demonstrations from Cleveland to Oakland, California. Their black liberation activism bleeds from every groove in the record.