September 1984: Prince Plays Secret $5 Show in Cincinnati

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 13: RITZ CLUB Photo of PRINCE, Prince performing on stage - Purple Rain Tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
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(Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

The date: September 23. 1984.

The venue: Bogart's in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cover charge: $5

The occasion: With Prince set to launch his massive Purple Rain tour in Detroit in November 1984, the artist wanted to run his band, the Revolution, through a few "dress rehearsals" by playing unannounced club gigs. On this night, a live music venue in Cincinnati would be rocked by the legend himself.

RELATED: January 1985: Prince is Still #1 with "Purple Rain"

"It was an incredible show," remembered Al Porkolab, who was the owner of Bogart's in 1984, for "It was very special. I was very moved about it. And then I couldn't tell anyone."

Porkolab and his staff went above and beyond to maintain the secret throughout the day, which wasn't easy. Their plan included disabling nearby payphones, and bringing in extra security. Still, rumors persisted throughout the day that something big was happening in town that night.

"Is that guy impersonating Prince?" Porkolab remembers a patron saying when the artist hit the stage to "Let's Go Crazy" to open the show that was billed on the marquee as "The Red, White and Blue Tour."

"You idiot," her friend responded. "That is Prince!"

"He seemed to be a very likeable guy," Porkolab recalled. "He wasn't gregarious. ... He seemed a little more introspective. He wasn't just blessed with extreme talent. He was blessed with extreme talent that he perfected and refined. I don't think he was ever satisfied."

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