This Day in Black History: July 27, 1984

Musical film Purple Rain, starring Prince, makes its box-office debut.

Posted: 07/27/2013 12:15 AM EDT

Prince reached astronomical heights of stardom in his film debut in Purple Rain, a rock musical drama that hit box offices on July 27, 1984.

The movie centers on a young Black Minneapolis native called “The Kid,” whose talented skills are rivaled only by a growing arrogance. As he spirals to fame, the singer deals with an abusive father, played by actor Clarence Williams III, and a love interest played by Apollonia Kotero. Musical duo Wendy & Lisa and The Time also featured in the film.

Purple Rain grossed more than $80 million and garnered a huge cult following. While some critics pegged the film as misogynistic, young women seemed to be its biggest fans. Prince’s musical talents were also showcased throughout the movie in a number of prolonged concert scenes.

In addition to breaking the mold cinematically with its non-commercial aesthetics, Purple Rain also spawned several monster chart hits, including “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain” and the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning “Let’s Go Crazy.” Both critics and audiences heralded the unique soundtrack, which sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide.  

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(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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