The "Cloud" guitar is a custom guitar built for Prince by Dave Rusan for the Purple Rain movie. It became Prince's preferred guitar for live performances from 1984 to 1993, and again from 1998 to 2000. Prince had multiple copies of the Cloud guitar made. It takes its name from the suit Prince wore in the Raspberry Beret video and the Around The World In A Day record cover, where Prince can be seen playing the guitar.
The first Cloud was a custom guitar built by Dave Rusan of Knut-Koupee Music in Minneapolis. The design is based the Sardonyx bass. Prince bought this bass on behalf Andre Cymone in the late 1970s and Cymone plays it in the Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad video. This guitar appears in the film. Three more Cloud guitars were built by Rusan for the Purple Rain tour and one was given away in a competition. It was Prince's primary live guitar through to the Act I & II era. However, according to Susan Rogers, Prince preferred to use the Hohner Madcat in the studio.
Further copies were made by Andy Beech. Schecter made a production model that varied from Prince's own instruments. Changes included variations in pickups, hardware and body shapes.
Original Dave Rusan Cloud Guitars:
- 1983, White - original Cloud guitar made for the Purple Rain movie, smashed at the end of the Parade tour.
- 1983, White - also known as "Cloud 2" or the "Blue Angel". Built for the Purple Rain tour. Repainted peach for the Sign O The Times tour, blue in 1988 for the Lovesexy era, yellow in 1991 for the Diamonds and Pearls era and dark blue for the Love Symbol era. Auctioned off in 2020.
- 1983, White - made for the Purple Rain tour. Missing.
- 1985, White - given away in a competition.
One of these original Dave Rusan Clouds was repainted yellow and is now in the Smithsonian.
Andy Beech copies:
- 1986, Black - made by Andy Beech for the Parade tour. Originally had a maple neck, painted completely black for the Batman era
- 1987, Peach - made by Andy Beech for the Sign O The Times tour.
- 198?, Teal - made by Andy Beech. Donated in 1994 to benefit Los Angeles Earthquake relief. Sold at auction for $700,000 in 2017.
Zeke Clarke made further Clouds in the 1990s. In 1995 there were 13 cloud guitars in existence, five in purple/blue and eight in yellow. A further three were in production. Two were originals, the other eleven were built between November 1995 and January 1995. One of these yellow Clouds was donated to in the Smithsonian.
A Cloud guitar was painted orange for the Superbowl/Earth Tour era (matching the Fender Stratocaster and Orange amps from this time) but was never used. It is unknown whether this is one of the above Cloud guitars or another copy.
The orange Cloud guitar remains in the collection at Paisley Park and appears in the Prince - Guitar & Bass book. The dark blue Cloud, the Cloud 2/Blue Angel was auctioned in 2020.
Dave Rusan builds reproductions of the original Cloud guitars. For more information, please visit the Rusan Guitarworks Facebook page.