Happy Birthday, Prince! Remembering the Purple Rain Tour at The Summit
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.
Photos by Bruce Kessler/Courtesy of rockinhouston.com Prince at the Summit on the "Purple Rain" tour, January 1985
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."