“Purple Rain Drops” of Late ’65

The first “purple rain” musical reference, researchers at Zero to 180 assert, comes from Stevie Wonder — though to be fair, from the pen of Ted Hull.  Most intriguingly of all: “Purple Rain Drops” would spend its entire adult life as a B-side, never to be included on a 12-inch long-playing record album:

“Purple Rain Drops”     Stevie Wonder     1965

Produced by Clarence Paul (brother of Lowman Pauling from The “5” Royales), “Purple Rain Drops” graced the flip side of Wonder’s early hit, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” released exactly two years after President Kennedy’s assassination.

US                                                               Canada

Stevie Wonder 45-USStevie Wonder 45-Canada

  UK                                                                Australia

Stevie Wonder 45-UKStevie Wonder 45-Australia

My favorite, and most evocative, of three European picture sleeves – from the Netherlands:

Stevie Wonder Dutch picture sleevePicture sleeve for French 45 in which “Purple Rain Drops” is final of four tracks:

Stevie Wonder French picture sleevePicture sleeve for Norwegian 45:

Stevie Wonder Norwegian picture sleeve30 years later, “Purple Rain Drops” would appear on an “unofficial” Belgian CD release – Rare Tracks from Detroit, Vol. 4, issued in 1996 – fittingly, as the last song on the disc.

Detroit compilation CDThree years hence in 1968, a Columbus, Ohio garage combo would use Purple Reign as its band name — is it possible that the musicians had originally been moved to do so out of respect for the Stevie Wonder B-side?

“Love a Go Go”: Stevie Answers Smokey?

I recently picked up a copy of Stevie Wonder’s 1966 album, Uptight, and was intrigued     to discover that Motown chose one of the stronger tracks – “Love a Go Go” – to lead off the album while at the same time electing to hold back the song from single release.  Curiously, a total of five songs from this “breakthrough” album for Stevie Wonder were issued on 45s, and none of them included “Love a Go Go”:

Could the song title be a playful riposte to Smokey Robinson’s big hit of the previous year, “Going to a Go Go”?

Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

The Lime were a band of young rockers from Ohio who apparently were also surprised Stevie Wonder never released this song as a single – so they did it themselves.  Their 45, which originally came out on the Westwood label, was later picked up nationally by Chess and made it to #1 in – of all places – Lubbock, Texas and Sharon, Pennsylvania. Click here to learn the rest of the story from The Lime’s Steven Sanders.

Love a Go Go - The Lime