By at 12:50 PM Friday, May 7th 2010


That Skinny Motherfucker With The High Voice

Prince, Music


Prince has a long and storied past with the internet. After being one of the first artists to embrace it in the mid-90s, he became a bit of a recluse in the mid 00s and started hiring people to take down leaked material from the internet. But for some reason, that has now stopped. YouTube has become a literal treasure trove for Prince fans, with several old concerts, rehearsals and music videos now widely available.

Perhaps the best stuff floating around is from a show that Prince performed all the way back in 1983, pre-Purple Rain. Anyone who’s a hardcore fan has seen the video time and time again, but everyday casual fans have been left out of the loop.

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The 1983 concert took place at First Avenue in Minneapolis. A year later when the club was featured in Purple Rain (the movie), the venue would be changed forever. In 1983 however, it was perfect for hosting a newly minted Prince & The Revolution. Prince had been performing with some of the band members for a while, but the show was the debut of guitarist Wendy Melvoin who would continue with the band until their dissolution in 1986.

But back on track – the 1983 show (August 3rd, to be more exact) was the first public live performance of Prince & The Revolution. The concert was a benefit for the Minnesota Dance Theater Company. It was also the first time the band would perform several of what would become their signature tracks, most importantly Purple Rain.

Everyone knows the song. Play the first few chords and you’ll have everyone around you singing along. But in 1983 that wasn’t the case. Instead you had a capacity crowd silenced by the song’s first performance. This is one of only a handful of bootlegs of this track that does not have the crowd going nuts; instead they listen to the song and literally see history in the making. Obviously they can’t sing along, the song is new. So instead they listen; Seeing Prince at his absolute rawest in a tiny club with bad sound, sweating his ass off for the Minnesota Dance Theater Company. And melting off faces with one of his best guitar solos.

This live show made up the basis for several Purple Rain tracks, including the title track, I Would Die 4 U and Baby I’m A Star. Prince’s vocals are spot on with how you know them – because they were recorded from a mobile truck outside of First Avenue. Add in a few overdubs and there you have it, one of the best selling albums of the 80s.

Regardless of how you view Prince now, back then one thing was clear – his name was Prince, his favorite color was purple, and he was a bad motherfucker.

Ed: If you enjoyed that, you’ll get a kick out of Steven’s Open Letter to Prince.


Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. Skwerl says:

    also, he is funky.

  2. Kevin says:

    also, he is good at basketball

  3. Thank God! I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fan of that skinny motherfucker with the high voice, and I’ve been stymied trying to access his work on Youtube. This is excellent news for the constituency of His Royal Badness.

  4. Wade Lawrence Nelson says:

    I’ve never been a big Prince fan, but that’s a hell of a performance for a debut.

  5. johnny says:


  6. tony says:

    Bowie always was a trendsetter

  7. Monika says:

    And 28 years later Prince is still one of the best performers and he still kicks ass! There is no one like him!!!

  8. andreina says:

    ….\o/….A masterpiece ..\o/

  9. Memo says:

    Ples sent pirence purple rain film

  10. […] Milton Nascimento – avec Bobby McFerrin Malheur aux Barbus le podcast Purple Rain – Premier enregistrement public live in Dortmund – au Tokyo Dome – aux Brit Awards par Etta James – par Randy […]

  11. PrincesWife says:

    MMMMMM MMM GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!thats my baby!!!!

  12. eduardo says:

    Como faço p/ baixar esse clipe, do prince que esta ai na pagina? obrigado.

  13. severin says:

    1st Avenue is not tiny by any stretch and the sound was not bad in 1983 by any stretch, but thanks for the link!

  14. ananimis says:

    There will only ever be one Prince!!!!!!!!!! There is no one else above him!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Dena Payonk says:

    I was right in the front row, right around 3:30 _3:35 the camera shows me in front of him! I walked away from that performance in awe!! 31 years ago!!


  17. Katie says:

    It’s amazing to me how Purple Rain and many other Prince’s other songs never age (like him, I guess).. you hear most other songs from this time and they sound so dated but I think if Purple Rain were to be released, exactly like this, as a single today, it would be a huge song. His music was, is and will always be timeless. The song he released yesterday “The Breakdown” is also an amazing track..

  18. Treachery says:

    Prince is also one badass guitarist! Well respected in the guitar community!

  19. […] It appears the FB version was deleted. You can watch it here. I downloaded this sucker because it’s just too damned […]

  20. […] with a desire to listen to The Band, before quickly becoming distracted by the idea of listening to Prince’s original recording of Purple Rain – a classic, which is shockingly hard to find on the internet. I’ve been getting more and more […]

  21. […] with a desire to listen to The Band, before quickly becoming distracted by the idea of listening to Prince’s original recording of Purple Rain – a classic, which is shockingly hard to find on the internet. I’ve been getting more and more […]

  22. Zidders Roofurry says:

    Wow this is great! Any way to download the video? I can’t find it anywhere else online.

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