Two American icons: the Chevrolet Corvette and Prince, the iconoclastic and stunningly original singer/songwriter/bandleader who passed away this year. They may not seem to have much in common, at first, and yet they will be forever linked thanks to one song: 1983’s “Little Red Corvette” by Prince and his then-backup band, the Revolution.
Though the song was more than two decades old at the time of the musician’s death, it is still remembered enough to link singer and car manufacturer together in the public consciousness. Nothing showed this more than Chevy’s simple tribute to the singer, which featured a picture of a red Corvette with the song’s most memorable line, “Baby, that was much too fast.”
How did Prince, a singer more comfortable singing about sex, love, and relationships, come to write one of the most famous songs about a classic piece of Americana? Let’s take a look.
A Little Pink Edsel?
Unsurprisingly, one of the main inspirations for “Little Red Corvette” was a car; just not the one you think. The idea for the song came to Prince in 1983, after a night of sleeping in a friend’s car after an all-night recording session. The car in question happened to belong to Lisa Coleman, one of The Revolution’s backup singers and one-half of the musical duo Wendy & Lisa.
At the time, Coleman was the owner of a pink Edsel, which means in the hands of a less talented songwriter we could have had a musical tribute to a largely forgotten car that stopped being manufactured in the 1960s. Thankfully, Prince was smart enough to realize that “Little Pink Edsel” wasn’t catchy enough and decided to change the subject of the song to a more classic, memorable vehicle in a more vibrant color scheme.
Over the course of his nap in his bandmate’s car, Prince jotted down lyrical ideas for a new song in the short periods he was awake. In the studio, he combined this with a minimalist synthesizer line and added additional instrumentation. In no time at all, a classic song and an enduring tribute to a legendary vehicle were born.
The Woman Behind the Song
Of course, “Little Red Corvette” isn’t just about a classic American car. It’s also about the singer’s relationship with a woman. For decades, the identity of the woman who inspired “Little Red Corvette” was unknown and the subject of much fan speculation. However, we now know the answer: A former girlfriend of the singer, Mi-Ling Stone, recently confirmed that she was the woman the song was about, and she even plans to release a book about the subject and her relationship with the pre-fame Prince Rogers Nelson.
Although Stone at first wanted to keep her relationship to the song from the public, she was named publically as the song’s inspiration by David “T.C.” Ellis, a former member of Prince’s second backing band, New Power Generation, who asked her directly about her relationship to Prince and the song after the singer’s death.
Want to test drive a little red Corvette of your very own? Contact Valley Chevy today at 812-829-4843 or visit our Spencer Chevrolet dealership.