Prince’s Nude tour came to Cork in July 1990 with a 90-strong entourage, which included a road crew of 60. It was breathlessly reported that the popstar was protected by a troupe of kung-fu bodyguards ahead of his concert for 55,000 fans.

Although Prince spent less than 12 hours in Cork, it was estimated that traders at the time enjoyed a £4m bonus as fans flocked to the city.

Promoter Oliver Barry brought Michael Jackson to Cork two years before Prince arrived here in 1990 and also staged the successful Siamsa concerts. Reports in the then Cork Examiner had sources saying that Barry faced considerable costs — including £80,000 to the Cork County Board for the use of Pairc Ui Chaoimh and fees of £500k for Prince himself.

To add to the festival air in Cork on the weekend Prince played, Cork Film Festival organised a screening of Sign O’ The Times in Cork Opera House. And in what could be seen as a real sign of the times, admission was £5, or £4 for the unwaged. And a serviced camp site was available at Monahan Rd. Irish Rail organised special pre-booked trains for Dublin pop fans travelling to Cork for the Prince concert. Fares were £17 for a one-day return or £21 for a two-day return.

‘Pornographic’ Prince had Cork spinning after 12 hours visit

There was plenty of controversy over Prince’s Cork concert too — then Lord Mayor of Cork Chrissie Aherne refused to greet Prince at Cork Airport or to attend the concert, saying: “I leave it to the people of Cork to do what they want to do, but I think I have more respect for my children and the children of Cork. I’ve listened to his music, deliberately, and I wouldn’t go for that kind of thing at all. I’m not stopping the people of Cork from going... it’s up to them. But I don’t want it for my children, or anything like it.”

Prince arriving at Cork Airport in 1990
Prince arriving at Cork Airport in 1990

RTÉ radio presenter Joe Duffy broadcast his programme from Princes St in Cork and chaired a debate on whether Prince’s music would contaminate young people.

Duffy himself proved rather impartial, declaring that he had listened to Prince’s songs and “they’re all rubbish”.

Prince performs some moves during his concert at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork on July 7, 1990. The American star played just 16 songs during his set on Leeside and the gig wasunfavourably compared to Michael Jackson’s concerts at the same venue two years earlier. Pictures: Irish Examiner Archive
Prince performs some moves during his concert at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork on July 7, 1990. The American star played just 16 songs during his set on Leeside and the gig was unfavourably compared to Michael Jackson’s concerts at the same venue two years earlier. Pictures: Irish Examiner Archive

Indeed, the Cork Examiner’s editorial noted that “apparently his act in Cork will be very much a toned-down version of Prince’s more explicit performances elsewhere”.

“But certainly questionable is the involvement of the Cork County Board of the GAA with Prince, who might be regarded as the very antithesis of the association’s Gaelic ideals. Without again belabouring the point, the GAA has refused its grounds to other sports organisations, and yet is prepared to allow the park to be used by a pornographic performer. Croke must certainly be turning in his grave.”

Forbes magazine at the time estimate that Prince’s enterprises earned $20m in pretax profits and his 1984 film Purple Rain grossed more than $75m.

More on this topic

Prescription drugs 'found with Prince at death scene'Prescription drugs 'found with Prince at death scene'

Prince said he was doing perfect, says long-time lawyerPrince said he was doing perfect, says long-time lawyer

Prince was 'full of energy' in days leading up to his deathPrince was 'full of energy' in days leading up to his death

No reason to believe Prince died by suicide, say US policeNo reason to believe Prince died by suicide, say US police


Lifestyle

Timothy Grady is in Bantry this week to host a concert, and read from his classic book about the Irish in London, writes Don O'Mahony.Giving voice to the emigrant experience

A care home builds links with kids, writes Helen O’Callaghan.Inside out: Children learn what it's like to live with dementia.

When you think of someone who is “into skincare”, you probably imagine someone in a face mask.The Skin Nerd: Why face masks aren’t as important as you’d think

With the evenings closing in and a welcome chill in the air, it’s time to embrace the new season now.Make the Transition: Turn over a new leaf this fall

More From The Irish Examiner