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.
My favorite, and most evocative, of three European picture sleeves – from the Netherlands:
30 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.
Three 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?