‘Purple Rain’ Screenwriter William Blinn Dead at 83
Although it was the only feature screenplay credit of his career, he created Starsky & Hutch and worked on Bonanza and Fame, among many other TV shows. He was also the recipient of Emmy awards for 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song and 1977 miniseries Roots. His daughter, Anneliese Johnson, told the Hollywood Reporter that he’d passed at an assisted living community in Burbank, California.
By the time Purple Rain was released, Blinn had left the production and his script had been re-written, but he retained a co-writing credit with director Albert Magnoli. Remembering his initial doubts about the project, Blinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2004 that he’d been convinced when Prince played him the track “When Doves Cry,” explaining: “For someone my age, I like rock music, but I don't like a lot of it. Nevertheless it was melodic, and played with great intensity. I said ‘Man, you've certainly got a foundation. This can pay off at the end.’”
He said the movie was “something different,” adding: “We were talking about a drama whose music is interwoven through the picture… I remember saying, ‘This is either gonna be really interesting and worthwhile, or really be laughable and awful. But it's nothing safe, nothing in the middle.’” Blinn had also been impressed by Prince himself. “I’ve worked around a lot of people in the music business, and often times they're fairly full of ego and full of themselves,” he said. "What I liked about Prince is that he is eccentric, but he isn't playing eccentric to impress you. He marches to his own drummer, and it's not a pose. He’s the real deal, very disciplined. You see someone that off beat, and you're pretty sure they're going to show up at two in the afternoon. That was not the deal with Prince. His work is certainly key to his life, and there's pretty solid evidence.”