Blackpool will see some Purple Rain

Not many successful bands start out as a pub bet, but that is exactly how Purple Rain hit the scene, and after 11 years they are still going strong.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 3:36 pm
Updated Monday, 18th September 2017, 3:40 pm
Jimi Love is the frontman for Purple Rain, a celebration of the music of Prince

Purple Rain, fronted by the charismatic Jimi Love, are a world-class live celebration of the music, life and legacy of Prince. And as Jimi explains, it all came about by chance.

"I was playing a gig in a covers band and we ended up jamming Purple Rain, as requested by a member of the audience.

"In the Dublin pub my good friend Adrian suggested we do a Prince night for New Year's Eve. Cue a mad dash to find some musicians who wanted to be involved and get it all ready - with just six weeks to go!

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"I managed to get a band together and we had so much fun playing the songs, I decided to pursue it properly.

"Fast forward a couple of years and we had a great band line-up and plenty of gigs under our belt."

The most obvious question to ask the frontman of a Prince tribute act would be how he felt on hearing about the death of the musical genius. His answer, understandably, was simply "devastated", having been a fan since the age of 10.

"Since April 21, 2016, the whole thing has taken on a new meaning.

"Every gig is dedicated to Prince now, a celebration of all the gifts he left and the impact he had on so many lives, including mine."

The story of how he became such a fan of Prince was easily explained: "My godfather played me Let's Go Crazy in his car and I was blown away by the energy. I heard Purple Rain and I just loved it.

"I washed so many cars to raise the £10 needed to buy Purple Rain on vinyl, my first Prince album.

"Over the next few years I managed to catch up, and by Diamonds and Pearls, buying his new album was pretty much an annual event," he said.

Jimi has been playing music for a long time, having started with the obligatory piano lessons in childhood. But it wasn't until he decided to teach himself how to play guitar that his life in music really started to blossom.

"I spent my late teens/early 20s playing in various bands, but I never learnt any Prince stuff on guitar. I think I was a bit scared and in awe!"

Despite having seen Prince live many times, Jimi never met the man himself and said top of his bucket list would have been to jam with him.

The band have been together now for 11 years and what is probably their biggest claim to fame came in 2008 when they had to make a last minute dash to Dublin when Prince cancelled his Croke Park gig with four days notice.

Jimi said: "We came on stage at 10pm to a packed club full of angry fans, who had travelled anyway, it being too short notice to cancel flights and hotels, and we played until 1.30am!"And it doesn't seem surprising that they have enjoyed those 11 years together, as Jimi described their time together as all fun, love and happiness.

"We all squish on the bus and there is not a cross word to be heard. We are all just good friends," he added.

The full eight-piece band have never played in Blackpool before, although they have played in Manchester and other venues in the North West. But for one band member, keyboard player Tony, it will be a return to his old stomping grounds. And he is looking forward to playing in the musical mecca.

Summing up Purple Rain, Jimi said: "I've always tried to avoid being a Prince 'impersonator'. There was only one Prince, and he was just so far ahead of anyone as a musician and performer, to impersonate him is just an impossible task!

"Yes, we dress up a bit for the vibe, but the fact I'm quite short, play guitar and look a bit like him is just coincidence.

"We all just love jamming his songs, and introducing his music to new people."

And when asked which Prince song does he enjoy performing the most, at first Jimi said he loved them all.

"But Purple Rain means so much to me. It has sort of become my theme. It is so emotional now to play live and I don't think I will be able to play it without a tear in my eye again."

Purple Rain - A Celebration of Prince, will be playing at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool on Friday, September 22. Tickets are £22.50, available from the Grand Theatre box office on 01253 290 190.