By Daniel Kohn
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While recently luxuriating in the frigid City of Lightbulbs, basking among the frozen fountains and shivering tourists, I had the opportunity to see the Prince tribute "Purple Reign." His Purple Majesty is big money in Vegas these days—a weekend residency at the Rio and more billboards than George Wallace and Lance Burton combined.
As you might imagine, "Purple Reign" is an homage to Purple Rain-era Prince: puffy shirts, tight studded pants and moustaches for everyone. About halfway through their very faithful set, "Prince" was escorted off the stage by his own mute "Apollonia." While he went off to spray on more stubble, the stage was set for "Morris Day." With an uncanny resemblance to Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite and accompanied by his own mirror-toting groomer, "Morris" proceeded to spend more time singing and jiving on stage than the real Morris did in the movie.
Morris Day, the real one, drank from the same chilly well as Prince Rogers Nelson in that mystic land of Minnesota. They went to high school together. They played music together. And eventually they became movie stars together. Starring in both Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, Prince played a shy, eye lash batting guitar slinger named "The Kid" while Morris E. Day played his foppish nemesis "Morris E. Day." It was Graffiti Bridge where Day really got to stretch out, performing several of his own hedonisitic, dance throwbacks buried in '80s synth and swagger. His frenetic dance steps and outlandish stage banter are still an integral part of his show.
And it seems that Prince's stock is on the rise these days. That his soggy Super Bowl halftime performance helped solidify his status as some sort of under-50, elder statesman can only be good for Mr. Day. In fact, if I can find the right venue this might be the moment to get cracking on my own cover band. Would anyone care to see "Morris Daye and the Thyme"?