Why Did Prince Love Purple, Anyway?

by Mary Grace Garis

On Thursday, the universe suffered a royal loss when TMZ announced Prince was found dead at his home, a reality confirmed later by his publicist. With Prince’s official cause of death still unknown, I can only stand with the universe in mourning: if there was any time for me to bust out my lavender velvet jacket with the tails, this is the day. And it really makes me reflect on Prince’s favorite color, the one he was lived his legacy in: purple. And, since we'll be seeing a lot of it as the world grieves the loss of such a legend, it might be a good time to reflect on why Prince is associated with purple.

Circling around a precise answer might be difficult, so let's look back at the moniker for the incredible song slash album slash movie, Purple Rain. Before the purple rain broke out, Prince had released five albums, For You, Prince, Dirty Mind, Controversy, and 1999, most depicting subtle nods to Prince's favorite color. Controversy features the singer in a light mauve jacket, and 1999 is a very '80s explosion of violet, so you sort of already could see the obsession blossoming. And then, when 1984 hit, the color was in full force with all creative efforts of Purple Rain: the singer was bathed in the hue, letting the purpleness wash down on him. It's with the purple rain that we can start to truly understand where Prince's purple obsession may have come from.

Around the mid-80s Prince became really interested with the idea of the apocalypse, so one interpretation of "Purple Rain" (the song, that is) is that it references being with your lover at the end of the world. That "rain" that Prince wants to shower over you? It's a rain of blood, Slayer style. Prince explained the purple rain in his own mysterious way:

When there’s blood in the sky - red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god"guide you through the purple rain

So that's one interpretation. You can also get really punny and re-translate "Purple Rain" as "Purple Reign," a play on words that would properly summarize Prince's hold on pop culture... and re-inform his title. Throughout history, there have been royal connotations with the color purple, and that ties in perfectly with his violet majesty's true name. Perhaps in adopting purple as his signature shade, Prince was trying to maintain a theme, and idea that he was musical royalty (not that anyone would contest this).

There is the lame-o idea that maybe Prince just really liked purple, and, as a signifier of creativity, that would make plenty of sense. With Prince as a bastion of creativity, it doubtfully was that simplistic of an answer. All we know for certain is the loss of the icon is palpable; indeed, you can feel the world getting a little less purple.

Images: Giphy (2)