This Day in Black History: July 27, 1984

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 named 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 “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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