Picks and Pans Review: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Had a Purple Reign as Prince

updated 03/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

" He was a small (5'4"), slim-hipped 26-year-old from Minneapolis with a sweaty chest, sinister grin and slinky sexuality—and he was bad. Prince, his Purple Rain majesty, had arrived, shaking up the rock world with a hit debut movie and a chart-topping soundtrack album. A one-man musical prodigy who produced, wrote and played all the instruments on his earlier records, he also had a prodigious ability to court everyone, from his backup singers to Kim Basinger. With his 1993 hieroglyphic name change, one may no longer be able to speak his name, but his spirit lives on. Says singer Sheena Easton, reportedly a former flame: "Prince's legacy will be pure spontaneity, pure joy."

Jay McInerney burned bright

It has been 10 years since the glittering success of his first novel, Bright Lights, Big City, and Jay McInerney is mulling over what a long, strange trip it has been. Who would have thought the thinly fictionalized story of a coked-out, twentysomething Manhattan magazine fact checker and his nighttime ramblings would become a rampant best-seller, a cultural signpost of the times—and then a bomb of a movie? The preppy writer went from overnight literary celebrity to gossip-column fodder, his divorce, his romance with model and slasher victim Maria Hanson and his 1991 marriage to jewelry designer Helen Bransford all chronicled in snide detail. Meantime, his subsequent novels (Ransom, Story of My Life, Brightness Falls) have been found wanting. "Only now," says McInerney, "am I emerging from the shadow cast by Bright Lights."

McInerney didn't set out to write about the '80s per se but about the only story he knew at the ripe age of 29—his own. That the book still sells briskly he attributes to nostalgia for a more boisterous, less self-conscious era. "Drugs really came out of the closet at that point," he says, "but it was a lot more innocent then."


...Michael J. Fox went Back to the Future...

Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis did a little Moonlighting...

Wham! uttered a Careless Whisper...

Madonna sang Like a Virgin...

And after winning a second Oscar, for Places in the Heart, Sally Field realized "You like me!"...

To fight hunger in Africa, the planet's biggest pop stars banded together for "We Are the World"

"This is what happened," says producer Quincy Jones, 61, explaining how a simple concept to benefit Ethiopian famine relief quickly snowballed into the all-star chorale of "We Are the World." "In the beginning, we had comics and singers and everything. Dan Aykroyd was there! But after Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Bruce Springsteen got hooked in, we went after Bob Dylan and Ray Charles. Then everybody came." In the end, 46 singers, including Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson and Paul Simon, congregated at the A&M studios in Los Angeles for a full-throated, all-night recording session of the song, written by Jackson and Richie.

"World," which eventually raised $61 million, was followed by other high-profile rock benefits, including Live Aid and six Farm Aids. Jones wonders whether, after all that, an all-star sing-along is still the way to touch hearts and open wallets. "There are lots of causes I'd like to do things for," he says, mentioning the L.A. earthquake, "but what was great about that time was that it was unique. Now we have to do something else unique."

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