Happy Birthday, Prince! Remembering the Purple Rain Tour at The Summit

Categories: Listen Up!

Photos by Bruce Kessler/Courtesy of rockinhouston.com
Prince at the Summit on the "Purple Rain" tour, January 1985
Today is Prince's 55th birthday. He's a Jehovah's Witness, so he may not celebrate the event, but that doesn't mean we can't. But no superfluous, flowery lede is required when discussing one of the most creative and talented musicians of our times.

Let's just cut into the purple banana cake and dish out some big ol' slices of why Prince is still delicious after all these years:

A Prince Show Is an Event
I've only witnessed Prince's live show once; but, it was at a critical moment in his career, on the Purple Rain tour, when he was emerging from underground musician to international superstar.

What I recall about the show is hazy. It was nearly 30 years ago, so give a guy a break. One thing I can say without reservation is going to see Prince live was, and still is, an event. You don't just happen upon a ticket on the day of the show and shelve your plans to go catch his act. You buy a ticket way in advance, brag about going to everyone you know and make an evening of it.

That's what my wife (then girlfriend) and I did in 1985 when Prince brought the Revolution and special guest Sheila E. to The Summit to perform at the watershed moment of Purple Rain. Before we ever saw Prince sing a note live, we bought tickets and then went over to Sharpstown Mall to eat at Good Time Charlie's and shop in the fashion stores. We had to look the part. I remember wifey wearing lacy gloves and a big purple bow in her hair.

We had dinner before the show. At Christie's on Main, which had a gargantuan prawn wearing a cowboy hat and shooting pistols out front. It seems like such an "old folks" thing to do now. Dinner and a show, like we were over at Dean Goss's theater.

Maybe it was my mother's idea. After all, she went to the show with us. I was only 19 at the time, and yes, old enough to attend even Prince's scandalous show sans a chaperone; but, my mother loved music and was wild about Prince. So, she bought a ticket, too.

It was awkward going to see Prince with my mom in tow. It was not a cool feeling to stand next to her when the nubile and scantily-clothed Sheila E. dragged an unsuspecting fellow on the stage and cooed "Next Time Wipe the Lipstick Off Your Collar" while giving him a lap dance. On the way home, I shifted attention from those shenanigans by asking everyone wasn't it cool when the lights went out and Ms. E's drumsticks lit up neon-like during "The Glamorous Life."



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Great write up!   You went with your girlfriend and your mom to a Prince concert?  That's awesome!  A little awkward perhaps, but aweome nevertheless.  Reading this triggered so many memories for me.  Like you, I saw Prince only once in my life, also the Purple Rain tour at the now defunct Summit.  I remember being a senior in high school at Incarnate Word Academy, which by coincky dink, was a mere few blocks away from the hotel where Prince and his entourage were staying.  So one day, me and my best friend and two other classmates ditched last period (another story in itself since it's almost impossible to "skip" anything at IWA aka "The Nunnery" -but I digress) and walked to the Four Seasons.  We were determined and would not leave until we met him.  Never mind that we were as conspicuous as could be, dressed in our matching plaid skirts, penny loafers and white oxford shirts and red letter sweaters.  Yeah, we would totally go unnoticed!  Sadly, we got as close as the lobby before four HUGE security guards asked us kindly, to leave the premises.  That Prince concert was the first time learned of Sheila E.  If you ever get a chance, you should check out Marcie Chapa -she's a local musician who used to play with Beyonce up until a few years ago.  Anyway, she can certainly give Sheila E a run for her money.  ----Another thing that caught my eye in your write up was that picture of the concert ticket $17.95 -damn I miss those prices!!!  

By far, Prince was one of the best concerts I have ever been to.  And almost all of his hits are my favorites, but if I had to choose?  Darling Nikki and I Wanna Be Your Lover.


@wordlover A couple of things, wordlover (great screen name):  thank you for reading the blog, i have noticed your tag before, it's greatly appreciated by me and the nice folks at HP; also, aren't the photos amazing? took me right back to that night. and, finally, i graduated Marian Christian High in '83 and my wife did in '85, so we are all too familiar with IWA and the lifestyle.  Thanks for sharing your memories of that time - I honestly cannot believe Prince didn't personally escort four teens in Catholic school girl outfits into his suite, LOL.  I'll check out Marcie Chapa and, btw, agreed - Darling Nikki still rocks.  -js 

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