Trump played “Purple Rain” at a rally in Minneapolis, and Prince’s estate is furious

Prince on stage during the Purple Rain tour.
Prince on stage during the Purple Rain tour.
Image: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
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Minneapolis is the main urban center in the midwestern US state of Minnesota, which has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972. Across the midwest, cities are often islands of Democrat blue in a sea of Republican red. The rural areas tend toward conservatism.

Minneapolis is also Prince’s hometown, the city he never really left. He made the movie Purple Rain, which featured the classic song of the same name, in and around the city. On April 21, 2016, he died at his studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota, just a few miles away from where he was born. In Minneapolis, he remains an iconic, beloved figure.

Perhaps this was why the Trump campaign decided to play a few bars of Purple Rain during last night’s rally in Minneapolis. But the decision has not gone down well. The Prince Estate, which has been managing the musical archive and legacy since his death, says it asked campaign managers to stop using Prince’s music a year ago.

Much of the Purple Rain movie was filmed at a nightclub across the street from the site of the rally, where protests broke out during a campaign event that was clearly designed for Trump supporters in the broader region. After the rally, Prince’s estate said that it “will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs.”

Though Prince’s political views were never publicly expressed in interviews, his music and his actions are fairly unambiguous. “1999” is an anti-Cold War anthem about a nuclear apocalypse. “Sign O’The Times” discusses AIDS, the heroin crisis, and the unnecessary machismo of the space race. In “Baltimore,” he talks about police brutality and Black Lives Matter, one of the many causes he financially supported. Prince also had a major impact on the business of entertainment, for many years fighting for a fairer deal from corporate interests.

Prince and Trump don’t appear to share any common interests, but “Purple Rain” is about a breakup, which might resonate with the twice-divorced president.