Why I Like Prince and U Should 2 Part 4: The Studio Recording of Purple Rain Is Not A Studio Recording

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Part of the mystique surrounding Prince is his total refusal to participate in the Internet. If you tried to find a YouTube video of Prince a couple years ago, you would have encountered something truly rare for the Internet: a dead end. Only over the past two years has he begun to relax his anti-Internet stance. Now he’s got an official YouTube channel and even a Twitter account just like the rest of us mortals.

It makes sense though. Prince has always demanded complete control over his creative output. While I have a lot of respect for this, I wish he wouldn’t have demanded a certain video to be taken down.

Earlier this year I learned something astounding: the album version of Prince’s opus “Purple Rain” is actually a live recording with a little bit of polish and a few overdubs. The live recording took place at a the First Avenue club in Minneapolis on August 3, 1983 where Prince had hired some of the worlds best mobile recording technicians to record the show.

The absolute craziest part is that this was the very first time Prince had performed “Purple Rain” for an audience. When you are listening to “Purple Rain” you are hearing a recording of the very first time ANYONE heard “Purple Rain”. The same show also produced the recordings for “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m A Star” that would eventually make the album.

I might not have believed it but then I saw the footage. Earlier this year a 14 minute video was circulating around the web of this initial performance and recording of “Purple Rain” and it was amazing. There was an extended intro before they kick into the recognizable part of the song, an extra verse that is missing from the album version and the guitar solo had a few more minutes to breathe as well.

But then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone.

I’ve tried to find it again but it’s like it never happened.

I watched it only once but I’ll never forget it.

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