Purple Rain (song)

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"Purple Rain"
US 7" single
Single by Prince and The Revolution
from the album Purple Rain
  • "God"
  • "God" (Instr.) (UK 12")
Released September 26, 1984
Recorded Live, First Avenue, Minneapolis, August 3, 1983
  • 7" edit: 4:05
  • Album/12": 8:41
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Mike Scott (The Waterboys), Prince[4]
Producer(s) Prince and the Revolution
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, R&B, gospel, and orchestral music. It reached number 2 in the US for two weeks, behind "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, and it is considered Prince's signature song. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, shipping 1 million units in the United States.[5] The song re-entered the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending May 14, 2016, after its last appearance in the top 10 the week ending December 1, 1984.

Rolling Stone ranked it number 144 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.

Following Prince's death in 2016, the song rose to number one on the US and UK iTunes Charts, allowing "Purple Rain" to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17, later reaching number four.[6] It also re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 6, making it two places higher than its original peak of number 8. Originally peaking at number 12 in France, "Purple Rain" reached number one on the national singles chart. As of April 30, 2016, it has sold 1,186,215 copies in the United States.[7]


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".[8]

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.[9] 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 and replaced with a different verse, changing the length from eleven to eight minutes.[8] 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.[10]

Prince explanation of meaning[edit]

Prince once explained the meaning of "Purple Rain" is as follows: "When there's blood in the sky – red and blue = purple... purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.".[11] The phrase "purple rain" did appear earlier in the lyrics of the Top Ten-charting song "Ventura Highway" by America in 1972. That song was written by Dewey Bunnell.

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 each 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.[12]


The song was a staple of Prince's live performances. He 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 when 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. Purple Rain ended up being the final song Prince performed live during his final concert in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14, 2016.[13]

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), 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
Australian Singles Chart 41
Austrian Singles Chart[14] 4
Danish Singles Chart[15] 5
Dutch Singles Chart[16] 1
French Singles Chart 12
Swiss Singles Chart[17] 5
UK Singles Chart[18] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 2
US Billboard Hot Black Singles[19] 4
US Billboard Rock Tracks[19] 18
Chart (2016) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[20] 3
Austrian Singles Chart[21] 71
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[22] 24
French Singles Chart[23] 1
Italian Singles Chart[24] 32
New Zealand Singles Chart[25] 8
Swiss Singles Chart[26] 4
UK Singles Chart[27] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[28] 4
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[29] 3
US Billboard Hot Rock Songs[29] 1

Stacy Francis version[edit]

"Purple Rain"
Single by Stacy Francis
Released May 29, 2012
Format Digital download
Recorded 2012
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.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Slowikowski, Tim (May 31, 2009). "A Track-by-Track Rundown of 'Purple Rain'". PopMatters. Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (June 24, 2014). "Prince's 'Purple Rain' at 30: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  3. ^ Jones, Chris. "Prince - Purple Rain Review". BBC. Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  4. ^ The original single release credits the authors of the song as Prince and The Revolution, but the song's authorship is registered with ASCAP as solely by Prince.
  5. ^ "American single certifications – Prince – Purple Rain". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  6. ^ Madeline Raynor. "Prince Is No. 1 on iTunes Today -- Vulture". Vulture. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Hip Hop Single Sales: Prince, Desiigner & Drake". HipHopDX. April 30, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Nilsen, Per (2003). Dance Music Sex Romance: Prince: The First Decade. SAF Publishing, pp. 153–155. ISBN 0-946719-64-0
  9. ^ Daley, Dan (January 1, 2009). "Classic Tracks: Prince and the Revolution's "Purple Rain"". Mix. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ NME.COM. "20 Things You Didn't Know About Purple Rain". NME.COM. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  12. ^ "Prince - Purple Rain Sheet Music". musicnotes.com. Arrangement Details. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ Brent Lang,Katie Van Syckle. "Prince's Final Days: Inside His Last Concerts - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  14. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in German). austriancharts.at. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in German). hitparade.ch. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain". danishcharts.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Purple Rain". ChartStats.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c "Purple Rain > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles" at AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  20. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. April 30, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain" (in German). austriancharts.at. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Prince – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Prince. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  23. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés Semaine du 22 avril 2016" (in French). snepmusique.com. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Top Digital - Classifica settimanale WK 17 (dal 2016-04-22 al 2016-04-28)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved April 30, 2016. 
  25. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. May 2, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain". swiss.com. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Official Top 100 Singles Chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 4, 2016.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  28. ^ Trust, Gary; Caulfield, Keith (April 25, 2016). "Prince's 'Purple Rain' Is the Week's Top-Selling Song, as 6 of His Classics Re-Enter Hot 100". Billboard.com. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  29. ^ a b Trust, Gary (May 2, 2016). "Prince's 'Purple Rain' Is Week's Top-Selling Song Again, as Eight of His Hits Chart on Hot 100". Billboard.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016.