See the Cast of ‘Purple Rain’ Then and Now
The mere fact a major Hollywood studio like Warner Bros. Pictures was willing to invest tens of millions of dollars to indulge Prince’s cinematic dreams said a lot about the musician’s cultural clout in 1984. Released in the summer of that year, ‘Purple Rain’ finds Prince playing an aspiring Minneapolis musician with a cool motorcycle and monstrous father.
As much as ‘Purple Rain’ is based on Prince’s own journey to stardom, the film is also a love letter to the Minneapolis music scene, and the city’s First Avenue club serves as the backdrop for much of the action. Although the musical performance scenes smoke, and the Time’s Morris Day and veteran actor Clarence Williams III both turn in fantastic performances, ‘Purple Rain’ never lived up to its hype. Still, it managed to rake in more than $80 million dollars at the box office — further testament to Prince’s pop-culture power back then. Diffuser.fm is taking a walk down memory lane to see where the stars of ‘Purple Rain’ have been up to since making the film.
Prince, The Kid
Then: Prince played the Kid, a character the Twin Cities funk-rock legend created in his own image. Only an artist with the ego the size of Prince’s could pull something like that off.
Now: With seven Grammys, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and more than 100 million albums sold, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recently joined Twitter and released a single and video called ‘Breakfast Can Wait.’
Apollonia Kotero, Apollonia
Then: She played the Kid’s love interest — who becomes an object of jealousy when she joins a group called Apollonia 6. Kotero took over the role from Vanity, another Prince protege who quit the Vanity 6 — the original name of Apollonia 6 — before ‘Purple Rain’ began filming.
Now: Kotero has remained active in show business, releasing a solo album in 1988, taking on TV and movie roles and recording a 2009 duet of ‘When Doves Cry’ with the Twilight Singers for a ‘Purple Rain’ tribute album.
Morris Day, Morris
Then: Day plays Morris, the Kid’s arch nemesis, a fellow musician whose band, the Time, is a staple at the club where the Kid’s group, the Revoluton, also plays.
Now: Now 55, Day still performs with the Time — who changed their name to the Original 7ven — and has appeared in films and television shows such as ‘227’ and ‘Moesha.’ Sadly, Day and the Time also make an appearance in 2001’s ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,’ a decision we’re sure he and the group regret now.
Jerome Benton, Jerome
Then: Benton played Morris’ wisecracking bodyguard and valet, Jerome.
Now: Still performing with Day in the Original 7ven, Benton was also once a member of the Family, a band formed by Prince that released an eponymous album on his Paisley Park label in 1985. The group (Prince wasn’t a member but wrote all but one of the album’s songs) broke up after the album bombed commercially.
Clarence Williams III, Father
Then: ‘The Mod Squad’ actor played the Kid’s father, an abusive, jealous nightmare of a man.
Now: The 74-year-old Harlem native is a busy character actor who can currently be seen in ‘The Butler,’ and who would probably rather everyone ignore his appearance in the disastrous 1995 horror movie disaster ‘Tales from the Hood.’
Wendy Melvoin, Wendy
Then: Wendy played the Revolution’s frustrated guitarist (just like in real life).
Now: Wendy’s late father, Mike Melvoin, was a pianist who played on ton of classic albums as a member of the ’60s studio session posse known as the Wrecking Crew. Her brother, Jonathan Melvoin, passed away after a drug overdose while touring as a member of the Smashing Pumpkins in 1996 at the age of 34. Her twin sister is singer and composer Susannah Melvoin, who was once engaged to Prince and was a member of the aforementioned Family and played with the Revolution as well.
Lisa Robinson, Lisa
Then: Lisa played the keyboardist in the Revolution, a role she filled in real life from 1980 to 1986.
Now: As with Melvoin, Coleman’s father, Gary L. Coleman, was considered a member of the Wrecking Crew collective. Coleman came out as a lesbian in a 2009 interview where she also talked about a past romantic relationship with Melvoin, who remains her partner in Wendy & Lisa, a duo that has released five studio albums.
Jill Jones, Jill
Then: A backup vocalist for Prince on his ‘1999’ album, and another one of the many ex-girlfriends he’s employed at one point or another, Jones played a bit part of a waitress in ‘Purple Rain.’
Now: Jones also appeared in 1990’s ‘Graffiti Bridge,’ the ill-fated ‘Purple Rain’ sequel, and that same year, she recorded a self-titled solo album for Paisley Park. Despite its lackluster sales, she’s released three subsequent albums and is still performing as a solo artist.
Then: Opened in 1970, First Avenue is the Minnesota venue where local artists like the Replacements, Soul Asylum, Husker Du and (obviously) Prince cut their teeth before building national and international followings.
Now: First Avenue remains Minnesota’s premier music venue and is still nurturing local talent as well as international touring acts.