But now the words “Purple Rain” are to be used to promote Scotland’s history and culture after a retired architect from Edinburgh registered the name as an official tartan with the Scottish Register of Tartans.
David McGill said the move would make Prince the “greatest tartan icon ever”.
Mr McGill, who designed the tartan a week after the singer’s death and whose Purple Rain tartan was officially registered yesterday by the Scottish Government body which regulates tartans, said: “Prince was an extraordinary icon, a man of huge talent, much admired by people around the world.
“I am a Prince fan in respect of one particular song – Nothing Compares 2 U, written and composed by him and sung by Sinéad O’Connor.
“When he passed away I saw this a way of paying tribute to him and promoting Scotland at the same time. I saw an opportunity for a tartan design which would be very popular in America and with his fans. Fundamentally, anything which promotes Scotland is good news.
“I think Scots can have quite an ambiguous approach to tartan. People are highly critical of ‘tartan tat’ in the Royal Mile, which tourists want to buy, because it doesn’t line up with their middle-class pretensions. However, these people don’t do anything to promote tartans telling Scotland’s history.”
Explaining the meaning of Purple Rain, Prince once said “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple...purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”
Detailing the colours in his tartan Mr McGill said: “Purple clearly starred in Purple Rain, the film for which he wrote the signature tune, it was a huge success and a Prince backdrop. The grey represents the rain and I chose white as a design thing because in architecture it can make other colours look quite striking.”
Mr McGill has registered more than 70 tartans, his first being Midlothian, aimed at promoting the county, followed by other parts of Scotland such as East Lothian, West Lothian, Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Fife.
His range of “Scottish icons” includes Queen of Scots and Loch Lomond while his 24 African tartans has Malawi promoting Scotland’s links with the country, with wearers donating money to charity.
Anyone can design a tartan to be considered for official registration by paying a non-refundable fee of £70.