When it comes to greatest performances, Prince owns the throne. His live shows became mythical; even if you’d seen him in concert before, you always felt like you missed out the next time you heard about one of his secret shows. And his TV performances were always among the most-talked-about moments of whatever show he graced with his presence. In a career filled with iconic moments, here are five of Prince’s greatest performances.
1. American Bandstand, 1980
One of the first performances that exposed the world to all that hotness. Even in this early stage, all the hallmarks of Prince’s mystic are there: the sexiness, the charisma and the mystery—just watch how hard Dick Clark has to work to get more than one-word answers (Prince even lies about his age; he was 21, not 19).
2. “Purple Rain” Live, 1983
This vintage performance of “Purple Rain” was filmed during a benefit concert in August 1983. Footage from the concert is regularly leaked onto the Internet and then deleted. Last time we posted it, we received a cease-and-desist order to take it down. Maybe now the video will be allowed to remain up in honor of his greatness.
3. Super Bowl XLI, 2007
How fitting that Prince performed’ “Purple Rain” in the rain? The bar isn’t incredibly high when it comes to Super Bowl performances, but this one goes down as one of the greatest.
4. MTV Music Video Awards, 1991
Who could forget the assless pants he wore while performing “Get Off” at the 1991 VMAs? You can see the full performance here, but really, do you even need anymore than this moment?
5. James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince, Aug. 20, 1983
Three musical legends come together for a once-in-a-lifetime performance during a James Brown concert at the Beverly Theater in Hollywood, Calif.