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"I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain."
~ Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution, 1984
Purple has long been associated with royalty, originally beginning with the ancient Phoenician purple dye (also known as Tyrian Purple) which was extremely expensive to produce, being obtained from the sea snail spiny dye-murex. This prized color was favoured by Roman magistrates, the rulers of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic bishops (who switched to Scarlet when Tyrian purple dye sources became scarce). Use of the colour was highly restricted throughout the centuries by sumptuary laws, and by the fourth century CE, laws in Rome had been tightened so much that only the Roman emperor was permitted to wear Tyrian purple - a child born to a reigning emperor was said to be porphyrogenitos, "born in the purple". In 1856, an eighteen-year-old British chemistry student named William Henry Perkin was trying to make a synthetic quinine, but his experiments produced instead the first synthetic aniline dye, a purple shade he called mauveine. From then on, this chemically and industrially produced purple (or mauve) became wildly popular with the masses. A modern devotee of the colour purple was Prince Rogers Nelson, American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor and filmmaker. A multi-instrumentalist and guitar virtuoso, Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound in the late 1970s, a subgenre of funk rock with elements of synth-pop and new wave. His tribute tartan, named for his 1984 song, "Purple Rain" uses Prince's signature colour, which is also the designated colour for Epilepsy Awareness Day (also called Purple Day), a condition from which he suffered as a child. 💜
Designed by David McGill as a tribute to late American recording artist, Prince, in the hopes that this would make "Prince the “greatest tartan icon ever," the colours in this tartan reflect the namesake album and song, "Purple Rain."
Purple is the international colour of Epilepsy Awareness Day also called Purple Day. Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016) was born epileptic and revealed publicly in 2009 about the effect that this had on his childhood. He credited divine intervention with giving him the strength to cope with his condition.
The purple colour of lavender is the signature color for epilepsy awareness - historically lavender (both the colour and the plant) have been used for the calming effect on the electrical impulses in the brain associated with this nervous system disorder.
Known for his innovative and eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant dress and makeup, and wide vocal range, his music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop.
To date, the Purple Rain album has sold over 22 million copies worldwide, becoming the sixth best-selling soundtrack album of all time.
Prince explained the meaning of "Purple Rain" as follows: "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."
Click the picture of Prince to read about the inspiration for this tartan.