Prince At Rock In Rio

30 years ago Prince made his Brazilian debut; headlining the prestigious Rock In Rio II festival in front of 60,000 fans at the city’s famed Maracanã Stadium.

Prince at Rock In Rio 2
Reloive the moment: Prince at Rock In Rio! (photo credit: NPG Records/Ralston Smith)

30 years on, we look back at Prince’s only visit to South America.

Prince at Rock In Rio: His purple reign took up three of the festival’s seven nights.

Critics said it could have lasted a thousand more.

It was mid-January, 1991 and word spread quickly through a grassroots movement of fans rushing from across the continent to see Prince at Rock In Rio, onstage for the second edition of Rio’ s legendary music fest.

It turned out to be his only appearance in South America but it was enough to make an indelible impression with Rio’s Rock crowd.

Newspaper critic Hélio Muniz covered Prince at Rock In Rio 2 for Globo, recalling: “Prince did everything on stage. He rolled on the ground, was caressed by girls in the audience and criticized the Gulf War, rolling and thrusting his hips in protest,” he wrote.

Seems Like Yesterday

Now, three decades later, Globo revisited that historic concert, praising the Minnesota musician’s performance, his powerful voice, masterful guitar play and stage presence as a performer.

Muniz continued, “Prince is a genie. Rock in Rio could have a thousand and one nights and he would somehow make a different show for each one, using the same repertoire.

As soon as Carlos Santana finished his show, people rubbed their hands eagerly, even with sound problems and the threat of rain at Maracanã. It was opening night and Prince was set to close.”


Maracanã was running on ‘Brazilian time’. Dancers warmed up the audience with ‘Something Funky’ until Prince took to the stage at 11:15 pm – almost two hours behind schedule – prompting impatience from the crowd, which was waiting to see Prince at Rock In Rio. Doubtless for the very first time.

Then they heard him say “My name is Prince” as he strode to center stage with the bombastic pulse of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ ramping up behind him.

60,000 South American fans obliged for the next 90-minutes. “The singer, mixing James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson, left no one breathing. They danced non-stop for an hour and a half,” Muniz recalled.

Well, not quite. At one point, Prince stopped the music entirely to complain about the sound problems, which plagued the entire festival line-up. The festival was broadcast live to 55 countries and 580 million fans. Prince played three of the seven nights.

Later, in the VIP room, Renato Russo, lead singer of the Brazilian pop/rock group Legião Urbana, showed his admiration for the multitalented singer: “He is an unsurpassed artist, even a genius. Prince is the best guitar player I’ve seen play live.”

Marina Mesmerized

MPB star Marina also gave princely praise. “…she knew his arsenal of tricks,” noted the Globo reviewer. “I saw his show in Paris. It was breathtaking. I did not like being in the crowd, but could not help but be caught up in it. He uses everything he has to mesmerize the audience.”

But that wasn’t Prince’s only flirtation with Brazil. In late 2005, he released ‘Te Amo Corazon’, singing in English and Spanish with a Bossa Nova beat.

Prince At Rock In Rio

Here’s the set list from Prince’s January 18, 1991 concert at Rock In Rio 2:

Something Funky (This House Comes) warmup

Let’s Go Crazy

Horny Pony


Peter Gunn

(Henry Mancini cover)

Purple Rain


Take Me With U


Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)

(Aretha Franklin cover)

Venus de Milo

The Question of U

Ain’t No Way

(Aretha Franklin cover)

Nothing Compares 2 U


Baby I’m a Star

Were you in the crowd for Prince at Rock In Rio II? Did you see him perform on tour? Drop us a note!

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