Purple Rain

Originally Performed ByPrince
Original AlbumPurple Rain (1984)
Appears On
VocalsFish (lead), Page, Trey (backing)
Phish Debut1993-07-16
Last Played2012-07-04
Current Gap470
Recommended Versions1993-07-16, 1993-08-14, 1994-05-07, 1996-08-06, 1999-07-25
HistorianMartin Acaster


"Purple Rain" was the multimedia fortean event which made Prince a household name. Apparently Prince grew unhappy with his fame and fortune. Closer to the truth is the possibility that he wanted to disassociate himself with his record label (or perhaps the unholy flop of his second turn on the big screen, Under a Cherry Moon). Either way Prince renounced his crown through the release of a 1992 album entitled with the enigmatic symbol with which The Artist now signs his checks (though he eventually reverted back to a pronounceable name at the close of 1999.) No doubt seeking to fill the void on the throne left by the untimely disappearance of the Prince of Pop, Henrietta assumed the mantle during the 1993 summer tour.

From its first heartfelt rendering on 7/16/93 until its seemingly final magical performance 8/6/96 at Red Rocks, “Purple Rain” was sure to bring a tear to the eye and a lighter to the hand of many a fan. In each performance Jon made the song all his own; emotionally belting out the lyrics and usually substituting inspired vacuum solos for the Hendrixian licks of the original version. Two performances of “Purple Rain,” those on 8/14/93 at Tinley Park and 5/7/94 at the Bomb Factory, were released on Live Phish 07 and 18 respectively. Perhaps a coincidence but most likely not, Phish hadn’t performed the song since the ’96 Red Rocks run, the first time Phish became a household name, and one which was unfortunately linked to fan rioting. In a not so obvious reference to the regrettable events in Morrison, CO, “Purple Rain” made its triumphant return to the stage (7/25/99) at Deer Creek. On cue, the attendees of Woodstock ‘99 in Rome, NY showed the world what it really means when fans riot. Fishman added to the hilarity by forgetting the words and thanked the crowd for supporting his vacuum cleaner habit.

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