Music With An “A”! The Origin Of “Purple Rain!” ABC! Aerosmith! Alice Cooper Runs For President!

I heard a song the other day that sparked a question – and the answer to my query is revealed in these “Songs With An ‘A’!”

I am featuring songs written by groups that begin with the letter “A” – so why this guy?

Well, that’s the question – and answer – to my musical quiz!

Let’s begin with the song that inspired Prince to create “Purple Rain!”

America – “Ventura Highway”

America was a folk-rock act in the early ’70s – they had several Top Ten hits, including the iconic “A Horse with No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair.”

But more importantly, they were the reason that Prince wrote this song:

Yes, their hit song “Ventura Highway” was the inspiration for Prince!

Here are the lyrics to “Ventura Highway”:

“Wishin’ on a falling star
Waitin’ for the early train
Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by a purple rain
Aw, come on Joe, you can always change your name
Thanks a lot son, just the same
Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger
Than moonshine
You’re gonna go, I know….”

Thats right, the song contains the phrase “purple rain”, which later became the title of Prince’s classic 1984 song, album, and film.

Writer Mikel Toombs of The San Diego Union and Bob Kostanczuk of the Post-Tribune have written that Prince got the title directly from “Ventura Highway”.

Asked to explain the phrase “purple rain” in “Ventura Highway,” America band member and Songwriter Gerry Beckley responded:

“You got me.”

Well, that answers that!

Here is their original version of the song that inspired Prince:

Another 70’s band hurtled into the 80’s and beyond with a series of rock hits like “Back In The Saddle”, “Cryin'” and this hard rock ballad:

Aerosmith – “What It Takes”

In 1989, Aerosmith had come back to become one of rock’s most successful acts – and this song is a great reason:

The band could rock hard but also sing of love – and loss, as they did here:

“Tell me what it takes to let you go…
Tell me how the pain’s supposed to go…
Tell me how it is that you can sleep
In the night
Without thinking you lost ev’rything that was good in your life to the toss of the dice?
Tell me what it takes to let you go. Yeah.”

Steven Tyler belts this song out with an honesty that is mesmerizing…here is the video:

When doing a series of stories about songs using letters of the alphabet, I guess you HAVE to start here:

ABC – “Poison Arrow”

They had a perfect “80’s” sound…and the perfect name for my series – the English band ABC formed in Sheffield England in 1980. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Martin Fry, guitarist and keyboardist Mark White, saxophonist Stephen Singleton and drummer David Palmer.

This video was recorded in the studio of the TV show “Top Of The Pops” in 1981. ABC ultimately had ten UK and five US Top 40 singles between 1981 and 1990.

Here is “Poison Arrow”:

You all know that the US just went through an unprecedented election – but now matter who you supported, what if this guy was an option?

Alice Cooper – “Election”

This was a “rock bomb” dropped on the 1972 election, Alice Cooper’s middle finger to the political system!

The band had just come off their great hit “School’s Out” – and now took on politics!

“I’m your top prime cut of meat, I’m your choice,
I wanna be elected,
I’m your yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce,
I wanna be elected,
Kids want a savior, don’t need a fake,
I wanna be elected,
We’re all gonna rock to the rules that I make,
I wanna be elected, elected, elected!”

Here’s the original music video for their political anthem:

Finally, as a lover of British music, I am a fan of “one word” bands as well:

Athlete Rules!

From Oasis to Keane, Doves to Coldplay, there are a number of great ones, like the band Athlete – they are terrific, and here is proof!

Athlete – “Shake Those Windows”:

This London band was together for more than a decade before going on hiatus in 2013 – I used to joke that they were for people who thought that Coldplay was TOO HARD-EDGED!

Seriously, they make intelligent melodic music like “Shake Those Windows” – here is the band performing this hit live:

Yes, it starts a bit mellow, but I love how it builds to a huge crescendo, and I think they were one of the great “Smart” Brit bands – here is a look at other “one word” band from England I love, like Elbow, Doves and more!

Kelly Clarkson was a fan of one word British Bands as well, since she covered a Keane song!

Yes, Kelly sang their great song “Somewhere Only We Know” – and you can see it by clicking here!

I shared Athlete the last time I looked at “Music With An ‘A'” – and I also had some from Adele and The Beatles too!

Click here to see why!

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Categories: 70's Music, Art, Classic Rock, Music, Obscure Music, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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13 replies

  1. An awesome post… John an enjoyable read from start to finish much nostalgia and some things I didn’t know…I am a big fan of Prince and Alice Cooper for President… the mind doesn’t object x haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story about Purple Rain. I didn’t think you were going there, but I remembered Prince’s girlfriend in the movie was named Apollonia. You named some pretty great bands that start with A. I thought about a few other ones I like: AC/DC, Ambrosia, Asia, Audioslave, Air Supply, Alanis Morissette, and Avril Lavigne.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to love this series, John! I never knew the inspiration for Purple Rain.


  4. Who knew??? Wow about Purple Rain and I lived that America album!


  5. I had no idea that Ventura Highway was the inspiration for Purple Rain!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had that album by America. Ventura Highway was such a good song, and their harmonies were superb. ABC are still going strong, and their front man Martin Fry has hardly changed at all.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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