Trump campaign's use of ‘Purple Rain’ has Prince estate seeing red

If a rally in Prince's hometown offered an irresistible opportunity for President Trump's re-election campaign to play "Purple Rain," it also proved a setting where the selection would be impossible for the singer's estate to ignore.

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Friday morning, it responded on Twitter, the president's preferred social networking platform, accusing his campaign of breaking a previous promise not to use the singer's music. Prince, who died only months before Trump's election in November 2016, made "Purple Rain" famous in the 1984 movie of the same name loosely based on his own life and was notoriously protective of his music and copyrights.

"The Prince Estate would never give permission for President Trump to use Prince’s songs," Friday's tweet read. It included a copy of an October 2018 letter from campaign attorney Megan Newton acknowleding a previous request not to use music from the legendary performer known for hits from "1999" to "Little Red Corvette" and "Raspberry Beret."

"To avoid any future dispute, we write to confirm that the campaign will not use Prince's music in connection with its activities going forward," Newton wrote at the time.

This isn't the first time musicians have objected to use of their work by the Trump campaign, and others long before it.

The president was criticized just last year after playing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” at a Midwest rally just hours after dozens were killed in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue. Williams' lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to the president, according to The Washington Post.


“There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday, and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,” the attorney wrote.

Decades earlier, according to Rolling Stone, Bruce Springsteen objected to former President Ronald Reagan's plans to use "Born in the U.S.A." during his reelection run. Even after the artist told one of Reagan’s advisors that he couldn’t play it, Reagan referenced the musician in his speech, according to the report.

The artist told Rolling Stone amid the brouhaha, “I think people have a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what's happening, I think, is that that need – which is a good thing – is getting manipulated and exploited."

Other conflicts, according to 24/7 Wall Street, occurred between former Sen. John McCain and the Swedish band Abba, which objected to his use of "Take a Chance on Me;" former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Boston, whose lead singer was offended by the politician's guitar rendition of "More Than a Feeling;" and former President Obama and the group Sam & Dave, which asked him to stop playing "Hold On, I'm Coming" in 2008.