“Can You Make It Rain Harder”: The Best Prince Videos (Currently) Online
Our favorite clips that the Purple One has left us with—for now.
For Prince, no task was too grand, no desire too out of reach. So when he made it his purpose to “reclaim the Internet” in 2007, his wish was his command—well, nearly, anyway. Perhaps no entity before or since has done such a sweeping job of removing content from the web, and for those looking to dive into his extensive legacy, video is simply not the best place to do so. That said, there are still some unbelievable moments of Prince’s career that survive online, albeit oftentimes in bootleg or grainy fashion. Maybe that’s for the best, though, in a weird way. Nothing has been straightforward in the name-shifting, genre-destroying revolution that he created, and peeking through a pixelated keyhole may very well be the way he would’ve wanted it to be.
Representing what appears to be the only full set available on the web, Prince’s 1982 concert at the Capitol Theatre in New Jersey was filmed between the release of Controversy and 1999. And what you have here—besides a snapshot of a confident, sweaty artist just beginning to capture the public eye—is real-time footage of Prince becoming Prince.
“Purple Rain,” 1983
The gender-bomb that Prince had set off with his arrival was preparing to hit new realms as he became a worldwide star, and in fitting preparation for that, he enlisted Wendy Melvoin into The Revolution the year before Purple Rain came out. This nasty, nasty footage marks the debut of the song “Purple Rain”—as well as the debut of Melvoin herself into the group, doing her iconic introduction of the classic.
The above version of “Housequake” live in 1987—in support of Sign ‘O’ the Times—is unfortunately shoddy in quality, but it is essential all the same for its insight into quite arguably the most charming period of the Purple One’s career. People took Prince seriously until the day he died, but that was partially because Prince never took himself too seriously. He’s right, too! Look at Miko Weaver’s pants! He really did have the funkiest band in show business.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” 2004
There may be no better testament to both Prince’s unbelievable star-power and otherworldly guitar-playing than his show-stopping performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. On that night, both Prince and George Harrison were inducted—and what a pair that made when the supergroup house band played “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Words cannot do it justice, but you know what can? Dhani Harrison’s face.
Super Bowl Press Conference/Halftime Show, 2007
When Prince walked onstage to do a press conference for his 2007 Super Bowl performance, he started with the line, “Contrary to rumors, I’m going to take a few questions.” And then he proceeded to rip for ten minutes instead. Leave it to His Purpleness to find a way to potentially outshine his own actual performance—which was insane in and of itself (“Purple Rain” in a straight downpour!), quite possibly the best in Super Bowl history.
The irony of this famous Radiohead cover at Coachella in 2008 is that it’s most well-known for being “wiped from the Internet” by Prince, who for some reason deemed it unworthy—or just hated any form of his image being out there that wasn’t specifically approved by him. He eventually caved on that battle, which shouldn’t have been that hard to convince him to do, as this eight-minute cover ultimately stands as one of the crowning moments of his career.
Entering the Oracle Arena, 2016
Tragically, Prince’s last set of performances—from his Piano and a Microphone Tour—were heavily restricted from being recorded. As they stand now, the massive, sprawling sets are suddenly legendary send-offs, and we can only pray that one of them was professionally shot for future release. In the meantime, you can remember his final form as it was spotted at a Warriors game in Oakland just a few weeks ago, when he waltzed in like the larger-than-life figure that he was. Game, blouses. FL