February is a month of celebration in the pop culture community — between the Grammy and the Academy Awards, the best in the music and cinema fields will be recognized in the next month. However, between the awards buzz for those two big nights, we want to make not to overshadow February’s significance: Black History Month. So to follow the month’s trend of celebration, we plan to spend all of February going through the most important African-American pop culture personalities of the last 29 years. We continue today with 1984.
Before 1984, when he released the film and soundtrack to Purple Rain, Prince was one of the most underappreciated artists of his generation. He had sold more than ten million records, but critics continued to laugh him off as a short-lived phenomenon in the last throes of his 15 minutes. Even during ’84, in a review of Purple Rain, Rolling Stone predicted that the album “may not yield another smash like last year’s ‘Little Red Corvette’” – which peaked at #6 on Billboard’s Pop Chart. Ha ha indeed.
The soundtrack to Purple Rain went on to sell almost 20 million copies. It produced four Top Ten singles, including “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” — Prince’s first #1s. The accompanying film grossed more than $80 million in the U.S. and debuted at the top position in the box office, making Prince the only person ever to hold the #1 spot in movies, albums and singles simultaneously. He also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in 1985.
The rest, as they say, is history. Purple Rain continues to be praised in the press, landing Top 100 spots in all-time best-of countdowns in both Rolling Stone and Time magazines. And as for the man himself, Prince is still writing music; his last three albums debuted in the Top 3 on the Billboard Chart, two of them at #1. So whether he’s selling out shows in Vegas or bringing down the house at the Super Bowl, one thing remains the same: this guy’s 15 minutes will never end.