Florida man who crafted ‘Purple Rain’ guitar recounts times with Prince

MIAMI (WSVN) — Prince’s iconic guitar in "Purple Rain" had a design as unique as the artist playing it, and now the man who designed it is sharing his story.

Dave Rusan of Rusan Guitar Works in Minneapolis, Minn., is a guitar maker and repairman. Born in St. Cloud, a city in Osceola County, Fla., Rusan wanted to be a rock star after getting his first guitar at 14 years old.

But he was more interested in tinkering than talent.

That tinkering led to his urge to build guitars at a music shop in Minneapolis, and this is where he had his first encounter with Prince. "He came over, and I remember one day he picked up a guitar," said Rusan. "He put it on and he just tapped notes with his left hand as he played a harmony line on a keyboard at the same time."

A few years later, Prince returned to Rusan’s shop asking for a custom guitar for his film "Purple Rain."

"Well, when something you made is so big on the screen and the drama — yeah, it was pretty surreal," said Rusan.

Prince left him with only a few instructions. Rusan recalls the icon asking for "it to be white" and "have gold parts on it."

Rusan went on to make guitars for major artists, including The Rolling Stones, The Who and Sheryl Crow, but he said it was Prince that made Minneapolis a hub for music. "He had everything: The talent, determination and a plan that he just was able to implement perfectly," said Rusan.

After crafting the "Purple Rain" guitar, Rusan made two more guitars for Prince.