Prince Had a Love Affair with Detroit, Whose Residents He Called 'Motor Babies'
April 21st, 2017, 7:53 AM
Detroit is no wimp when it comes to the music scene. For one, there's techno music and the legendary Motown sound.
Plus, Prince really loved the town.
Bobby Kahn of a music blog, The Current, writes:
Minneapolis was always home for Prince, but another Midwestern city loomed large in his heart from the very beginning of his career. One need only look at the Purple Rain Tour dates to understand how much Detroit meant to him. The tour kicked off with seven straight sold-out shows at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit — nearly two months before Prince and his family of bands played five shows for the hometown crowd at the St. Paul Civic Center.
Prince called Detroit his second home and referred to its denizens as his “motor babies”; he did so with good reason. Months before he first played Sam’s (later renamed First Avenue) in March 1981, a purple flame was beginning to consume Detroit.
When he put out his first three albums — For You, Prince, and Dirty Mind — there wasn’t a huge market for black artists on Twin Cities radio stations. “Here, we had KMOJ, a 10-watt station with a 150-foot antenna that you couldn’t get well outside of three or four miles if you were lucky,” says Alan Freed, a historian and former radio DJ with KMOJ and other stations. “In Detroit you had two or three major stations at the time.”
The demographics of the Motor City, as well as the infrastructure in place (radio, clubs, and retail) made Detroit a top market for a black artist.