In the spring of 1985, there were two types of Prince fans–those who boarded the violet-hued bandwagon years before Purple Rain (both the album and the film) became the pop culture sensation of the year, and those who were recent converts to the church of soulfully spooky electric funk. What was once a cult had seemingly overnight turned into a crowded congregation of fans who were turned out by the haunting beauty of the single “When Doves Cry,” which was in constant rotation on MTV as well as Black radio; the release of Purple Rain in theaters two months later marked a new age and millions of new listeners.
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Although Prince’s success had been in motion since 1978 when he was an Afro wearing teen riding his bicycle to go meet Cynthia Horner and posed for the cover of Right On, his debut For You was an alright album that barely hinted at dude’s forthcoming genius. A fan since my Baltimore high school days when I discovered him while kickin’ out the jams in my cousin’s bedroom, where “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” and “Bambi” changed my life, I’d always admired Prince’s chameleon styled quality.
Cultural critic Michael A. Gonzales has written cover stories for Vibe, Uptown, Essence, XXL, Wax Poetics and elsewhere. He’s also a columnist for soulhead.com. Read him at Blackadelic Pop and follow him on Twitter @gonzomike.
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