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Relive the premiere of “Purple Rain” and the glitzy evening in Hollywood

Relive the premiere of “Purple Rain” and the glitzy evening in Hollywood
Relive the premiere of “Purple Rain” and the glitzy evening in Hollywood


Morris Day pulled up in a yellow Cadillac. Apollonia got out of a silver Rolls-Royce. And Prince arrived in a purple limousine, of course it was purple as 5,000 fans screamed outside Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Holding a long-stemmed purple flower for the world premiere of “Purple Rain,” the Minneapolis rocker dressed in a custom purple lambskin trench coat, surrounded by bodyguards, walked straight into the famous movie palace on July 26, 1984, without a word. No acknowledgment or even eye contact with fans. He ignored an MTV VJ conducting live interviews on the red carpet. Prince didn't even look up at the 30-foot canvas of him hanging in the front of the theater.

But the paparazzi were not disappointed by the guest list: Eddie Murphy, Morgan Fairchild, Christopher Reeve, Lionel Richie, Little Richard, Pee-wee Herman, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Kiss, Talking Heads, Heart, Donna Mills , Kevin Bacon. , John Mellencamp, Rickie Lee Jones, LeVar Burton and “ET” actor Henry Thomas, 12, among others.

“I can’t believe all the stars,” Prince’s mother, Mattie Baker, told me as she descended the 25-yard challenge where no one else recognized her.

“Purple Rain” director Al Magnoli looked confident as co-producer Bob Cavallo paced nervously outside the theater. There were test screenings in Denver and San Diego, and Warner Bros. had ambitiously placed “Purple Rain,” the film featuring a first-time star, in 900 theaters across the country, 200 more than originally planned. But the filmmakers were worried.

At Mann's, seats were assigned, including to 500 fans who paid $10 each alerted by a classified ad in the newspaper. Worshipers screamed as Prince's image flashed across the screen. They fainted when he kissed Apollonia. And they went crazy during his performances.

Prince escaped before the end of the film. He had a party to attend at the nearby Palace Theatre.

As expected, the palace was a study with purple spotlights, balloons, streamers, napkins, flowers in the centerpieces and purple orchids handed to the women as they entered.

In the humid and crowded main room of the three-story venue, guests enjoyed quiches, meatballs and pasta salad. MTV VJ Mark Goodman solicited criticism on camera.

“It was a gas,” said Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. “The cinematography was excellent. Prince was as good at cinematography as one would expect.”

“Compared to other rock 'n' roll movies like 'Help' or something, this one was much better,” offered John Mellencamp. “It was nice to see Prince speak.”

“I’m proud of Prince for taking the whole Minneapolis scene with him,” Lionel Richie said. “There are followers and there are leaders. He kills. This is just an extension of his life story, and now everyone is going to want to make their own movie.”

“I am exempt from giving criticism,” retorted Steven Spielberg.

The band's Robbie Robertson, who has worked in both film and music, was less than enthusiastic: “It's not great cinema, but in terms of putting film and music together it made a contribution.”

Prince's people were certainly excited.

“Prince brings back the days of old Hollywood,” Revolution drummer Bobby Z told me at the party. “People who are jaded were excited about this. You can feel real excitement.”

Except Prince wasn't in the party room to share the excitement. Yet the show must go on. Unexpected dancers from Minneapolis, who turned out to be Kirk Johnson, Tony Mosley and Damon Dickson, who had danced in the film, performed a routine to Prince's “Erotic City.” Then came the time of Sheila E., Prince's latest protégé. With her Bay Area band, she let loose with Latin-tinged funk/pop and wowed by pulling “Ghostbusters” singer Ray Parker Jr. out of the crowd to tease him with her “Next time , wipe the lipstick off your Necklace.”

Finally, at 12:20 a.m., Prince & the Revolution took the stage. It was a quick appearance of “17 Days,” “Irresistible Bitch,” and “When Doves Cry.” Spins, splits, an 8 foot jump from the top of the amplifiers. No “Thank you, good night” or any words from the Kid.

At the end of the Revolution, I asked Bobby Z what he thought of the evening. He wanted to talk about my in-depth series on Prince that week in the Star Tribune for which I interviewed Prince's mother, high school teachers, classmates and others and confirmed that the Star explosive was two years older than his official biography said.

“You blew us away,” said Z. “Everyone [in the band] What I wanted to talk about was the show, not that.”

Everyone at the party, from co-producer Cavallo with his victory cigar to Prince's parents and Paul Peterson, who left Holy Angels Academy to join Time as a replacement, wanted to celebrate Prince. And “Purple Rain.” And put Minneapolis on the map.

However, Steve Fargnoli, the film's co-producer and Prince's day-to-day manager, wasn't feeling optimistic. As he and I stood outside the palace well after closing time, he looked forlorn and shook his head. He was pessimistic about the success of the film, which would be released in two days.

“You saw the reaction at the theater and the early reviews were very positive,” I told Fargnoli. “Did you see Mikal Gilmore’s eulogy in the LA Herald Examiner?” The respected former Rolling Stones writer called it “the best rock movie ever made.”

“Don’t worry,” I insisted. “Don't worry.”




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