Prince's long-lost Purple Rain “blue angel” identified as Cloud guitar currently up for auction

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

We recently reported on Prince’s custom-made 1984 blue Cloud electric guitar that's going up for auction at Julien’s.

The instrument was stage-played by Prince, and features heavy wear, in particular at the neck near the headstock.

But a new discovery reveals just how stage-played the guitar really was. Julien’s has now revealed that the Cloud in question is Prince’s long lost “blue angel,” his main live instrument from 1984 until 1993.

Which means the blue angel accompanied Prince on his tours for iconic albums like Purple Rain, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, Lovesexy and Diamonds and Pearls.

Additionally, Prince used the guitar for appearances on Saturday Night Live’s 15th Anniversary Special in 1989, the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards and his 20-minute set on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1991. 

He also played the blue angel in the music videos for Get Off and Cream, as well as held it for photo shoots for Spin magazine (his September 1991 cover) and the film poster for the 1987 Sign o’ the Times music documentary.

According to Julien’s, the original guitar was white and has been painted and refinished in white, peach, light blue and yellow before arriving at its current electric blue.

The guitar neck is cracked from between the 6th and 7th frets up to the headstock and no longer has strings attached.

The builders of the guitar include O’Hagan Guitar Company, Tommy Stinson, Dave Rusan, Mark Sampson and Barry Haugen.

Julien’s also says that after the guitar was announced, the auction house was contacted by John Woodland, who performs conservation work on Prince’s guitars at his headquarters and home, Paisley Park, and had been searching for the blue angel.

Woodland has spent a year and a half researching the origin and creation of all original Cloud guitars. He is also currently writing a book with former Knut Koupeé Music employee Gerald Ronning on the subject.

Julien’s then contacted Westside Medical Imaging in Beverly Hills, who conducted an CT scans on the guitar. Julien’s also consulted former Knut Koupeé employees as well as former O’Hagan guitar employee Dave Seaton to help them with their research.

"Not only is this a Prince guitar but of all his guitars that he played this is one of the greatest and most important Prince guitars that will ever come up for auction," said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions.

Added Laura Woolley, consulting specialist for Julien’s Auctions, "This is the most comprehensive research on an instrument that I have ever been involved with and it has yielded the most conclusive and exciting results that we could have hoped for." 

The original estimate for the blue angel was $100,000 - $200,000. Following the recent discoveries, the estimate has been raised to $400,000 - $600,000.

It is being sold with an oversized Calzone purple guitar road case.

For more information on the blue angel, which will be part of Julien’s Music Icons auction on June 19 and 20, head to Julien’s Auctions.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.