With the news that pop superstar Prince has died today at age 57, his multitude of fans and admirers have begun to express their grief and pay tribute to his far-reaching, innovative work. Country singer Darius Rucker is a longtime and vocal fan, an appreciation that began well before Rucker was leading Hootie & the Blowfish to massive success in the Nineties.
“He made me stand up and listen when the Controversy album came out,” Rucker tells Rolling Stone Country, referencing Prince’s 1981 collection. “And then he made me want to be in a band more than anything with ‘Purple Rain.’ I will forever be indebted to him for showing me true greatness.”
Over the years, Rucker has regularly covered the iconic “Purple Rain” as a part of his live sets. In the video above — from Rucker’s annual St. Jude benefit concert at Nashville’s Wild Horse Saloon — he does his best to match the intensity of Prince’s 1984 original. The crowd erupts with enthusiasm upon realizing the song choice, screaming every chorus while Rucker shimmies seductively through the anguished verses. Rucker exits after a polite bow, walking offstage to the strains of that epic guitar solo.
Rucker also tweeted his appreciation of Prince, writing, “Once again Heaven’s band just got even more incredible. One of my absolute idols #Prince.”