Rock Flashback: Red, White, Blue, and Purple

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prince Rock Flashback: Red, White, Blue, and Purple

The Purple One performs in blue, 2007 (Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn)

There are people who will tell you that 1984 was one of the best music years of all time. They just might be right. This week in 1984, we witnessed a harmonic convergence of two of the top stars of the ’80s and two of their most famous works.

On the Billboard album chart dated July 7, 1984, Born in the USA by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bruce Springsteen[/lastfm] hit #1. If album sales had been tabulated then the way they are now — instantaneously at the point of sale — the album might have been #1 during its very first week of release. As it was, it took a month to ascend the summit. It would stay there for a month.

On the Billboard Hot 100 for the same week, the first single from Born in the USA, “Dancing in the Dark,” sat at #2 for a second consecutive week. It had been leapfrogged for the #1 position by “When Doves Cry,” a song from the Purple Rain soundtrack by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Prince[/lastfm]. “When Doves Cry” had crashed to the top first, even though “Dancing in the Dark” had a week’s head start. (“Dancing in the Dark” would never make the #1 spot. It remains Springsteen’s most successful single.)

The Purple Rain album would knock Born in the USA from the top spot in early August, just after the movie hit theaters. Purple Rain would stand unchallenged atop the album chart for 24 straight weeks, through mid-January 1985, before a challenger knocked it off — Born in the USA, which would add two more weeks to its total at the top.

So here’s a 1984 videorama: first, “Dancing in the Dark,” with an impossibly young-looking Springsteen dancing with a flabbergasted girl played by an actress who would become a star a few years later — Courteney Cox.

Prince is not fond of online video, so you won’t find the original video version of “Purple Rain” anywhere. Best I can tell, this clip is from the concert shot for use in the film, and features the performance that would end up on the album, albeit edited and most likely overdubbed in spots.

Experience more Rock Flashbacks.

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