Purple Rain (song)

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"Purple Rain"
U.S. 7" single
Single by Prince and The Revolution
from the album Purple Rain
B-side "God"
"God" (Instr.) (UK 12")
Released September 26, 1984
Format 7" single
12" single
Recorded Live, First Avenue, Minneapolis, August 3, 1983
Genre Rock, pop, gospel, symphonic rock
Length 7" edit: 4:05
Album/12": 8:41
Label Warner Bros.
Producer(s) Prince
Certification Gold (RIAA) - December 5, 1984
Prince and The Revolution singles chronology
"Let's Go Crazy"
"Purple Rain"
"I Would Die 4 U"
Purple Rain track listing
"Baby I'm a Star"
"Purple Rain"

"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, pop, gospel, and orchestral music. It reached number 2 in the U.S. for two weeks, behind "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, and it is widely considered one of Prince's signature songs. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, shipping 1 million units in the United States.[1]

Rolling Stone ranked it number 143 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time while Q magazine placed it at number 40 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and Pitchfork Media named it the best song of the 1980s.

Prince won an Oscar for the now defunct category Best Original Song Score for "Purple Rain".


The song was recorded during a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis on August 3, 1983. The performance was guitarist Wendy Melvoin's live debut with The Revolution, at the age of 19. City Pages described the 70-minute performance as Prince's "sweatiest and most soulful hometown concert yet", and drummer Bobby Z stated, "it certainly was one of the best concerts we ever did".[2]

The concert was recorded by David Rivkin (a.k.a. David Z, brother of Bobby Z) using a mobile recording unit brought in from the Record Plant in New York City, staffed by engineers Dave Hewitt and Kooster McAllister.[3] The basic tracks for three songs were used on the Purple Rain soundtrack: "Purple Rain", "I Would Die 4 U", and "Baby I'm a Star". Prince performed overdubs while working at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles from August–September 1983. A solo and verse from the original recording were edited out, changing the length from eleven to eight minutes.[2] The extra verse was about money, but was removed because it diluted the emotional impact of the song.[citation needed]

After recording the song, Prince phoned Jonathan Cain from Journey asking him to hear it, worried it might be too similar to "Faithfully", a Journey single composed by Cain which had recently been in the charts. Cain reassured Prince telling him the songs only shared the same four chords.[4]

Song structure[edit]

"Purple Rain" opens with a lone guitar quickly followed by live drumming and a prominent organ, evoking images of church gospel music. Three verses are followed by a chorus, with a building emotional delivery. In the context of the film, each verse ties into a different strained relationship Prince's character has and his desire to reconcile. The first verse is dedicated to his father, then his ex-girlfriend (Apollonia), and then his band mates. After the final chorus, a guitar solo takes over the song. The song ends with a piano solo and orchestral strings. Prince's vocal range spans from the low note of F3 to the high note of A5.[5]


The song is a staple of Prince's live performances. He has 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 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.

As a single[edit]

In order to be released as a single, the song was shortened from 8:45 to 4:05.

The B-side, "God", is a much more overtly religious number (Prince's most religious to date), recalling the book of Genesis. The song also features extensive vocal experimentation. Towards the end, Prince mentions "The Dance Electric", which was a song given to former band member André Cymone. In the U.K., the 12" single also included an instrumental of "God", also known as "Love Theme from Purple Rain", an edited portion of which appears in the film.

Track listing[edit]


  • A. "Purple Rain" (edit) – 4:02
  • B. "God" – 3:59


  • A. "Purple Rain" – 8:45
  • B. "God" – 3:59

12 " (UK)[edit]

  • A. "Purple Rain" (long version) – 7:05
  • B1. "God (Love Theme from Purple Rain)" (instrumental) – 7:54
  • B2. "God" (vocal) – 3:59

Shaped picture disc (UK)[edit]

  • A. "Purple Rain" (edit) – 4:02
  • B. "God" – 3:59

7" promo (US)[edit]

  • A. "Purple Rain" (edit) – 4:02
  • B. "Purple Rain" (edit) – 4:02

7" promo (UK)[edit]

  • A. "Purple Rain" (radio edit) – 4:19
  • B. "Purple Rain" (long radio edit) – 5:37

12" promo (US)[edit]

  • A. "Purple Rain" (edit) – 4:02
  • B. "Purple Rain" (LP version) – 8:45


Chart (1984) Peak
Australia Singles Chart 41
Austria Singles Chart[6] 4
Denmark Singles Chart[7] 5
Netherlands Singles Chart [8] 1
Switzerland Singles Chart[9] 5
UK Singles Chart[10] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 2
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles[11] 4

Stacy Francis version[edit]

"Purple Rain"
Single by Stacy Francis
Released May 29, 2012
Format Digital download
Recorded 2012
Genre Rhythm and blues, soul
Length 3:49
Label Donovan Noel Productions

"Purple Rain" became the debut single of American recording artist and The X Factor's season one finalist, Stacy Francis. She first performed the song on The X Factor Judges' Houses episode, in front of her mentor Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias. Her powerful vocal performance received positive feedback, with Iglesias commenting: "I think the neighbors can hear that!"

Francis eventually released a studio version of the song as her debut single on May 29, 2012. She dedicated the single to her supporters who have been supporting her ever since she was eliminated from the competition and motivated her to do a studio cover of the song.

The song has also been covered by South African singer Nicholis Louw. [12]


  1. ^ "American single certifications – Prince – Purple Rain". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  2. ^ a b Nilsen, Per (2003). Dance Music Sex Romance: Prince: The First Decade. SAF Publishing, pp. 153–155. ISBN 0-946719-64-0
  3. ^ Daley, Dan (January 1, 2009). "Classic Tracks: Prince and the Revolution's "Purple Rain"". Mix. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Hitlåtens historia, "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, Extramaterial: Prince trodde att han hade snott låten". svt.se. January 30, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Prince - Purple Rain Sheet Music". musicnotes.com. Arrangement Details. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in German). austriancharts.at. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in German). hitparade.ch. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain". danishcharts.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Purple Rain". ChartStats.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Purple Rain > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles" at AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  12. ^ "Nicholis Louw", Who Sampled. Retrieved January 10, 2014.