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New archival footage surfaces of Prince performing legendary 1983 "Purple Rain" set at First Avenue

New footage surfaces of Prince performing legendary 1983 "Purple Rain" set at First Avenue
New footage surfaces of Prince performing legendary 1983 "Purple Rain" set at First Avenue 00:46

MINNEAPOLIS -- This week marks 40 years since Prince and the Revolution performed their instantly legendary concert sets at First Avenue, debuting many of the songs that would eventually become the soundtrack to the blockbuster film "Purple Rain."

It was on Aug. 3, 1983 that the fast-ascending R&B-rock alchemists tested out a treasure trove of then-brand new compositions. Those who were there to witness the show that night have never forgotten it.

Prince had only just wrapped up the whirlwind "1999" tour a few months prior, and the band was performing at First Avenue as part of a benefit for the Minnesota Dance Theatre.

While Prince performed a few of his established hits, like "Delirious" and fan favorite "When You Were Mine," he also launched no fewer than five of the songs that would form the backbone of the soundtrack album -- beginning the set with "Let's Go Crazy," and also including "Computer Blue," "I Would Die 4 U," "Baby I'm a Star," and, of course, his enduring legacy rocker "Purple Rain."

He also performed "Electric Intercourse" at that immortal 75-minute show, a track that would ultimately be replaced by "The Beautiful Ones" in the final edit and a song that for many years only existed in bootleg form. (Additionally, one of his most beloved covers, of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," held audiences rapt back in '83.)

In tandem with the 40th anniversary of the concert, WCCO dug into its archives to find video footage that hasn't seen the light of day in decades. The brief clip shows Prince working it out to "Computer Blue," in a version far more stripped down than the overdubbed suite that ended up on the LP.

It offers up yet another view of a widely-bootlegged, but undying moment in Minneapolis music history.

WCCO's 1970 discovery

Of course, this isn't the first time WCCO's found purple gold in its vault. In spring of 2022, WCCO production manager Matt Liddy was looking through footage of the 1970 Minneapolis teachers' strike when he caught interview footage of a group of young kids. One of them looked naggingly familiar.

"I immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people and saying, 'I'm not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?' And every single person [said] 'Prince,'" Liddy said.

WCCO's Jeff Wagner spearheaded the robust investigation into whether or not the child speaking was, in fact, a young Prince Rogers Nelson and, after confirming with a number of friends and experts, confirmed the footage's veracity.

The Little Prince: Footage Unearthed Of Superstar At Age 11 06:16

A number of events are planned this weekend to commemorate the 1983 concert performance, including at First Avenue itself, where a pair of parties are scheduled.

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