Prince’s Paisley Park might have its roots in his Minneapolis birth place, but Prince’s purple reign on concert stages and the pop charts has many ties to Miami.
The diminutive pop and R&B superstar who, with Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Lionel Richie, defined popular music in the ’80s, also made Miami his base for some of his most outlandish performances.
Here are some of Prince’s most memorable made-in-Miami moments.
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Purple rain at the Super Bowl
Prince’s performance at Dolphin Stadium for Super Bowl XLI in 2007 was all wet. Literally. Who else but the rocker who made Purple Rain an anthem could have called on the heavens to unleash a torrential downpour for a special effect? You say he didn’t? We say Prince had some pull with the Big Guy.
Despite the rain, Prince’s performance has ranked among the all-time best Super Bowl halftime shows and, post-Janet Jackson’s NippleGate, most controversial. Prince’s guitar solo during the Purple Rain segment of his medley was projected visually onto a large, flowing beige sheet. The silhouettes of his body and guitar (shaped like the singer’s infamous Symbol) looked, well, phallic.
A Daily News TV critic sniffed, “a rude-looking shadow show.” But others were laudatory, including Rolling Stone. “If people want to be hypersensitive, they can be hypersenstive. Those trombones are pretty phallic too. What are you going to do?”
Purple reign at the Orange Bowl
Easter service or attend a Prince concert? Prince turned the Orange Bowl into the Purple Bowl on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1985, for the final leg of his Purple Rain concert tour, the album and show that elevated Prince to Michael Jackson-level fame.
And the church and Miami City Commission went apoplectic.
“Happy Easter, South Florida. My name is Prince and I’ve come to play with you,” the star said as he careened headlong into his opening number, Let’s Go Crazy. Clad in a white ruffled shirt, long sequined coat, sequined trousers and pompadour, Prince licked his lips, wiggled his hips and sent hot licks flying from his electric guitar all over the former Orange Bowl.
“Not since 1969, when Jim Morrison of The Doors was arrested at a Miami concert for lewd behavior, has a rock ‘n’ roll star come so close to depicting onstage what Ann Landers calls The Act,” wrote a Miami Herald reporter.
The Archdiocese of Miami branded Prince “sacrilegious.” The Miami City Commission pleaded with Prince to change his concert date after its members realized the show was scheduled for Easter. When Prince refused, they denounced him as immoral.
Yet then-Commissioner J.L. Plummer sat in a press box as Prince performed Darling Nikki, the song that led Tipper Gore to push for warning labels on album covers. “I don’t think any concert should be held on Easter Sunday,” Plummer told the Herald, not referencing a Toto concert that was being held down the street at the James L. Knight Center. “It’s not Prince specifically, but personally, I don’t care for him. I’m a little too old for this.”
This story was originally published by the Miami Herald.