Wednesday, September 26, 1984

Prince released “Purple Rain” as a single

Purple Rain

Prince & the Revolution

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)

Released: September 26, 1984

First Charted: September 21, 1984

Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 2 GR, 12 RR, 4 RB, 18 AR, 6 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.69 UK, 1.69 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 193.40 video, 292.73 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Purple Rain” was the third single from Prince’s monstrous 1984 soundtrack of the same name. It followed two #1 songs – “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” It peaked at #2, but after Prince’s death in 2016, it re-charted, hitting #4. In the UK, the revived song hit #6, two spots above its original peak, and in France it went to #1 after the original stalled at #12. WK

Prince originally reached out to Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for what was then a country-tinged 10-minute song. She said, “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s too much for me.’” NME She’s also said she suspected he wanted a relationship with her. SF He eventually wrote three verses – one about his parents, one about Apollonia (his girlfriend at the time and co-star in the movie), and his band mates. NME In the movie, Prince’s band mates Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman complain that he never uses any of their material. The move ends with him taking the stage and introducing the song as being written by them. SF

Coleman said the song symbolized “a new beginning. Purple, the sky at dawn; rain, the cleansing factor.” NME Prince explained it by saying, “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.” NME The idea echoed a theme from his “1999” song two years earlier in which he sang “…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…” WK However, the phrase was first used in America’s 1972 hit “Ventura Highway” and the line “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by purple rain.” SF

Prince also reached out to Journey’s Jonathan Cain because he was worried the song sounded too much like the band’s “Faithfully” ballad. Cain was okay with it, noting that songs only shared a few chords. NME He told Prince, “I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.” SF

The song was recorded live at a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre on August 3, 1983 at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. NME The songs “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star” were also recorded at the performance and used on the Purple Rain soundtrack. WK The song was also memorably featured in his Super Bowl halftime show in 2007 – while it was raining.


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First posted 11/17/2019; last updated 12/23/2022.

Monday, September 24, 1984

Robert Plant helms the Honeydrippers on a retro-rock covers EP

Volume 1

The Honeydrippers

Released: September 24, 1984

Charted: October 20, 1984

Peak: 5 US, 56 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, world: 1.3 (includes U.S.)

Genre: rock


Song Title (Writers) (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. I Get a Thrill (Ruby Toombs)
  2. Sea of Love George Khoury, Phil Phillips) (10/13/84, 3 US, 3 CB, 4 RR, 1 AC, 11 AR, 56 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU)
  3. I Got a Woman (Ray Charles, Renald Richard)
  4. Young Boy Blues (Doc Pomus, Phil Spector)
  5. Rockin’ at Midnight (Roy Brown) (10/13/84, 25 US, 28 CB, 23 RR, 38 AC, 8 AR, 18 CN)

Total Running Time: 18:07

The Players:

  • Robert Plant (vocals)
  • Jimmy Page (guitar)
  • Jeff Beck (guitar)
  • Paul Shaffer (keyboards)
  • Nile Rodgers (guitar, co-producer)
  • Wayne Pedzwater (bass)
  • Dave Wecki, Keith “Bev” Smith (drums)


2.929 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)

About the Album:

Supergroups don’t get much bigger than this. Led Zeppelin fans were overjoyed to see Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunite. In addition, Jeff Beck – who Page replaced in the Yardbirds – showed up as well to get classic rock guitar fans swooning. Nile Rodgers, formerly of Chic, leant his production talents as well. While initially associated with Chic and Sister Sledge and other disco acts, he had started branching out to other pop and rock acts like David Bowie, Duran Duran, and Madonna.

This EP of R&B covers came about at the request of Atlantic Records’ boss Ahmet Ertegun. With a couple of solo albums in the classic rock vein and his “monolithic Zeppelin” AMG only a few years behind him, this project surprised some of Plant’s fans. However, he’d “always harbored deep, abiding love for early rock & roll” AMG so this “unabashedly retro-rock project” AMG shouldn’t actually be that startling.

“Plant excelled on Rockin’ at Midnight but landed an accidental US hit when DJs began playing the band’s version of the 1959 smoochie Sea of Love.” Q The latter has “a certain sense of pastishe…in how…[it] is drenched in oceans of strings…but that’s part of the charm of the record.” AMG Some might find it “even campy, but there’s a genuine warth in Plant’s performance...and his…Honeydrippers…have a great time running through these handful of oldies.” AMG Plant has said it “is his personal favorite project that he ever recorded.” WK

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First posted 9/27/2010; last updated 5/20/2022.

David Bowie Tonight album released


David Bowie

Released: September 24, 1984

Peak: 11 US, 11 UK, 4 CN, 4 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Loving the Alien [7:10] (6/8/85, 10 CO, 19 UK, 65 AU)
  2. Don’t Look Down (Pop/Williamson) [4:10]
  3. God Only Knows (Asher/Wilson) [3:07]
  4. Tonight (with Tina Turner) [3:45] (12/1/84, 53 US, 51 CB, 32 AR, 6 CO, 53 UK, 21 CN, 70 AU)
  5. Neighborhood Threat (Bowie/Pop) [3:13] (10/13/84, 40 AR, 32 CO)
  6. Blue Jean [3:12] (9/15/84, 8 US, 5 CB, 10 RR, 2 AR, 2 CO, 6 UK, 12 AU)
  7. Tumble and Twirl (Bowie/Pop) [4:59]
  8. I Keep Forgetting (Leiber/Stoller) [2:36]
  9. Dancing with the Big Boys (with Iggy Pop)(Alomar/Bowie/Pop) [3:34]

Songs written by David Bowie unless indicated otherwise.

Total Running Time: 35:32

The Players:

  • David Bowie (vocals) Derek Bramble (guitar, bass, synthesizers, backing vocals,)
  • Carlos Alomar (guitar)
  • Carmine Rojas (bass)
  • Omar Hakim (drums)
  • Sammy Figueroa (percussion)
  • Rob Yale (Fairlight CMI)
  • Guy St. Onge (marimba)
  • Arif Mardin (string arrangements, synthesizers)
  • Mark Pender (flugel horn, trumpet)
  • Robin Clark, George Simms, Curtis King (backing vocals)
  • Mark King (bass on “Tumble and Twirl”)
  • Tina Turner (guest vocals on “Tonight”)
  • Iggy Pop (guest vocals on “Dancing with the Big Boys”)


2.577 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

About the Album:

After achieving the best-selling album of his career with 1983’s Let’s Dance, David Bowie followed up with an album in much the same formula with dance-oriented pop inflected with blue-eyed soul. Unfortunately, the album was missing a few of the key players that made Let’s Dance so successful, namely Chic’s Nile Rodgers as producer and Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar.

Blue Jean, the lead single, is generally viewed as the best song on the album, which isn’t surprising since it followed the same formula as the hits from Let’s Dance. Other than that song, “none of the material equals the songs on Let's Dance, but that doesn’t stop Tonight from becoming another platinum success.” AMG

The Serious Moonlight tour in support of Let’s Dance brought a new audience which Bowie didn’t even recognize. He was uninspired to record a new album, but was pressured by the record label to come up with a quick follow-up. As on the previous album, Bowie didn’t play any instruments, focusing exclusively on vocals. He didn’t even provide much direction to the other musicians in the studio. WK

He also stepped back on the writing, covering the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows and Chuck Jackson’s I Keep Forgetting, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Biographers Nicholas Pegg and Chris O’Leary have both called Bowie’s version of “God Only Knows” “the worst recording he ever made.” WK Author David Buckley called “I Keep Forgetting” “unmemorable.” WK

Bowie originally wrote Neighborhood Threat and the title cut with Iggy Pop for Pop’s 1977 Lust for Life album. Don’t Look Down was written by Pop for his 1979 New Values album. The pair also wrote the new songs Tumble and Twirl and Dancing with the Big Boys. Pop duets with Bowie on the latter.

In addition to “Blue Jean,” the song Loving the Alien was released as a single, but it didn’t even scratch the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Bowie felt the song didn’t fit with the rest of the album because of its darker nature. WK The “reggae-influenced” WK “Tonight,” featuring Tina Turner, reached #53 in the U.S. They sang the song face-to-face in the studio together. WK

Almost immediately upon the album’s release, Bowie seemed almost apologetic in interviews. WK Critics weren’t too kind in judging the album. All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said, “The record stands as one of the weakest albums Bowie ever recorded.” AMG Rolling Stone said “this album is a throwaway, and David Bowie knows it.” WK

Stylus magazine did, however, say “It’s a much better album than you think it is” and that even though it isn’t a great album, it is a good one. WK The New Statesmen’s Yo Zushi said, “no album that begins with the seven-minute masterpiece ‘Loving the Alien’ and contains the rocking ‘Blue Jean’ should have received the drubbing it got.” WK

Notes: “As the World Falls Down,” from the Labyrinth soundtrack, and singles “This Is Not America” (with Pat Metheny – from the soundtrack for The Falcon & the Snowman) and “Absolute Beginners” (from the soundtrack of the same name) were added to the Virgin Records CD reissue.

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First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 8/2/2021.

Saturday, September 22, 1984

Stevie Wonder’s The Woman in Red charted

The Woman in Red (soundtrack)

Stevie Wonder

Charted: September 22, 1984

Peak: 4 US, 14 RB, 2 UK, 4 CN, 4 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.3 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Woman in Red
  2. It’s You (with Dionne Warwick)
  3. It’s More Than You
  4. I Just Called to Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder) [4:21] (8/1/84, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 RR, 1 AC, 1 RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: 4 ½ million)
  5. Love Light in Flight (Stevie Wonder) [6:54] (12/1/84, 17 US, 16 CB, 14 RR, 10 AC, 4 RB, 44 UK, 39 CN)
  6. Moments Aren’t Moments (by Dionne Warwick)
  7. Weakness (with Dionne Warwick)
  8. Don’t Drive Drunk (12/29/84, 62 UK)

Total Running Time: 41:19


2.724 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

1984 was a good year for Stevie Wonder. Detroit gave him the key to the city and he considered a run for mayer. He played harmonica on “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” Elton John’s biggest hit in 4 years. Wonder released the biggest single of his career with I Just Called to Say I Love You. It became one of Britain’s ten largest-selling singles of all time. The song also won the Oscar for Best Song, but Wonder evoked some anger in dedicating the award to Nelson Mandella. South African radio stations responded by banning his music.

The parent album did well commercially, reaching #4 in the U.S. and going platinum, and also becoming Wonder’s first #1 in the UK. However, the album – a soundtrack to a Gene Wilder comedy – still frustrated fans and critics who didn’t rate it amongst his best material. All Music Guide’s William Ruhlmann said it was “less than a full-fledged Wonder record,” AMG which was a disappointment to fans who’d already waited four years for an entire album’s worth of new material. Ruhlmann said that even “I Just Called to Say I Love You” was a “sappy” AMG and “formulaic TV commercial-in-the-making.” AMG

The album did produce a second top-20 hit, Love Light in Flight and the single Don’t Drive Drunk. The U.S. Department of Transportation used the latter as a Drunk Driving Prevention public service announcement the following year. WK

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First posted 6/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Friday, September 14, 1984

Madonna performed “Like a Virgin” at the MTV Video Awards

Like a Virgin


Writer(s): Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly (see lyrics here)

Released: October 31, 1984

First Charted: November 16, 1984

Peak: 16 US, 15 CB, 15 GR, 13 RR, 29 AC, 9 RB, 3 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.14 US, 0.93 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 136.85 video, 276.59 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

One could potentially mark September 14, 1984 as the date when Madonna became a superstar. Over the last year, she’d had three top twenty Billboard pop hits with “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star.” However, the title track from her sophomore album launched her into the stratosphere. She premiered the song on the aforementioned date at the first MTV Video Music Awards. When she writhed on the floor in a wedding dress, the world took notice of her no-holds-barred sexuality. It was “one of the seminal moment in the history of MTV” SF and “one of the most iconic pop performances of all time.” WK

The song wasn’t originally written for Madonna, or even a female singer. Lyricist Billy Steinberg wrote the song from personal experience. He said it wasn’t about truly being a virgin, but about the positive feeling that came with a new relationship. Madonna also denied that the song was about sex, saying, “It means a woman who has obviously been mistreated and kind of looked over and not treated well.” SJ

Steinberg also said the song started as a “sensitive ballad” RC but it didn’t work when Tom Kelly, the song’s co-writer, tried to put it to music. The pair also found success with “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston, “Alone” by Heart, “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles, and “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. Kelly started playing the bass line and sang with “a falsetto, almost Motown inspired vocal” RC and Steinberg said, “Yeah, that’s it.” RC

At a meeting with Warner Brothers Record’s Michael Ostin, Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the song’s co-writer, played a demo of the song and told him they weren’t sure who it would fit. Ostin happened to have a meeting with Madonna the next day and thought it would be perfect for her. FB Ostin said, she “went crazy, and knew instantly it was a song for her.” WK Madonna said, “I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever.” WK She said she never realized it would become one of her signature songs. WK

Producer Nile Rodgers gave the song “a masterful pop sheen,” TC bring in bassist Bernard Edwards and drummer Tony Thompson, his bandmates from Chic (“Le Freak,” “Good Times”). Rodgers didn’t want Madonna to record the song initially. He didn’t think the title was, as he told the Los Angeles Times, “the all-time catch phrase. But after about four days I couldn’t get the song out of my head.” FB Audiences couldn’t get it out of their heads either. “Like a Virgin” became her first of twelve #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and the biggest song of 1984. CPM Madonna became “an icon to a generation of emancipated women.” TC


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First posted 11/14/2019; last updated 5/1/2024.