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7 Fascinating Facts About Prince And 'Purple Rain'

Alan Light's new book takes a behind-the-scenes look at the music icon's blockbuster album and movie from 30 years ago.

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1. Prince's ultimatum to his managers: Get me a movie...or else.

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By 1983, Prince had recorded five albums into his career and had just started to break out with the 1999 album. His contract with his managers was up for renewal and they were definitely looking to re-sign the talented artist. But Prince balked until they could secure him a movie deal. "It was worth so much money to me," said Bob Cavallo, who was Prince's manager, "because if he didn't re-sign with us, it would've been a tragedy...I knew that in person he was unstoppable; he was so good, he works so hard, his shows are so precise. It was something to see."

2. Bob Seger was an indirect influence for the song "Purple Rain."

American Talent International (management)/Capitol Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

On his tour for the 1999 album, Prince worked the same venues as Bob Seger did at the time. Prince asked his keyboard player Matt Fink what made Seger connect with his audiences, to which Fink cited the Detroit rocker's power ballads such as "Turn the Page" and "We Got Tonight." By December 1982, Prince began to work on his own anthem that would later become one of his most beloved songs, "Purple Rain."

3. Purple Rain...starring John Travolta?

Michael Wolf via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

As documented in Let's Go Crazy, it was a major hurdle for Prince and his team to move the movie project forward, from the script to the final edit. Purple Rain's director Albert Magnoil recalled what Warner Bros. executive vice president Mark Canton said to Prince's management during a meeting: "'We're thinking Prince isn't enough of a star to hold this movie, and wonder if you would consider John Travolta to play this role?'" The remark threw Prince's reps in a fit, but fortunately Canton later apologized to Magnoli and asked the team to pitch the film to Warner Bros. Pictures. By October 1983, Purple Rain began filming.

4. Co-star Apollonia Kotero sets off alarm bells after 'Lake Minnetonka' shoot.

screenshot from 'Purple Rain' trailer/Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

One of the more memorable moments in the film is the scene in which the nearly-naked character played by Apollonia Kotero goes into the waters of 'Lake Minnetonka' as part of an initiation from The Kid (Prince). However, that turned out to be a prank as it was not the real Lake Minnetonka. For that film shoot, according to the book, the actress dipped in the cold waters three times and then afterwards went into hypothermia. "And then Prince came in," Kotero recalled in a 2014 public radio station interview, "because I remember feeling his warmth...and he says, 'Please don't die. Please don't die, Apollonia.' And his voice kind of cracked...He saved me, with his warmth and his love and compassion."

5. Prince stays mum throughout Purple Rain's reign.

screenshot from 'Purple Rain' trailer/Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

Prince has always been an iconoclast, and what he did 30 years ago at the height of Purple Rain mania would totally be unheard of in today's social media and marketing culture. As the album and film ascended to the top, Prince did NOT do any press interviews for over a year. It is stunning considering that this was Prince's first big film project and he was not doing any promotion for it. Prince's former tour manager Alan Leeds told Light in Let's Go Crazy: "But he really did sell, not just the industry, but the world, on the concept of his mystique...He worked it brilliantly, for an awfully long time, to his advantage."

6. Prince gets injured while rehearsing for the Purple Rain tour.

Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

If you have seen Prince's iconic video for "When Doves Cry," you remember the opening shot of the singer reclining in a clawfoot bathtub. The tub was also part of the set for his Purple Rain tour, in which it would emerge from the stage using a hydraulic lift. But during a final dress rehearsal, the tub carrying Prince wasn't secured tightly on the lift, and both fell to the ground. "Everybody rushed over and checked him out," keyboardist Matt Fink said in Let's Go Crazy, "and fortunately, nothing had broken, but he was bruised pretty badly."

7. Prince abruplty ends the Purple Rain tour after less than six months

Wikipedia / Via en.wikipedia.org

Adding to the aura of his unpredictability, Prince decided to conclude the Purple Rain tour after a 32-city run in the States -- and not take it overseas to Europe and Asia. The final tour date took place on April 7, 1985 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was a move that disappointed his Revolution band mates and managers, as the popularity from the album and movie were still riding high. "I asked him why," Matt Fink told Alan Light, "and he said, 'I've had enough, I just don't want to do it.' Not that Prince took an extended hiatus: a few months after the tour, he released his next album Around the World in a Day.

Bonus: A number of cool artists have covered "Purple Rain"

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The impressive list of artists who have performed the song live includes Tori Amos, Marooon 5's Adam Levine, Hootie and the Blowfish's Darius Rucker, LeAnn Rimes, and Phish. "It woke up something in me--memories, sadness, deep longing, it touches so many emotions," Amos said in the book about the majestic song.

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