ST. PAUL, Minn. -- While more than 100 protestors prayed for his soul, the rock star Prince asked 17,500 of his hometown fans to go crazy for two hours and then try to 'love one another.'
'Hometown, hello! My name is Prince,' the star of the film, 'Purple Rain,' said Sunday night as purple flowers showered the crowd at the first of the Minnesota musician's five sold-out concerts.
Prince then launched into his song, 'Let's Go Crazy.' After a two-hour show, he left the Civic Center stage with a holiday greeting.
'Please try to love one another -- it's the least we can do,' said the singer born Prince Roger Nelson. 'I hope you all have a merry Christmas.'
Before the concert, protesters denounced Prince as 'the Prince of Perversion' and said Gov. Rudy Perpich had undermined Christian values by proclaiming the week 'Prince Days.'
'We don't hate this man (Prince), but we're hoping he gives his life to the Lord,' said the Rev. Dan Peters, who organized the protest with his brother, the Rev. Steve Peters. 'We believe the best thing Minnesota can do is pray for Prince and publicly ignore him.'
About 125 protesters responded, 'Hallelujah!'
The protestors, who carried signs proclaiming Jesus Christ the true Prince, held a slide show that included examples of Prince's suggestive lyrics and showed the singer stripped to bikini briefs.
'You never know what you're going to see at a Prince concert,' Steve Peterssaid. '(In New York), he even took a bag of condoms and threw them into the audience.'
During Sunday's concert, Prince stripped to his waist and climbed into a purple bathtub, teasing the audience with suggestive undulations and gestures.
Perpich, whose 'Prince Days' proclamation has brought forth hundreds of complaints, said he planned to attend one of the five concerts.
'My actions have been misunderstood. Members of the clergy have suggested that my proclamation is somehow an endorsement of lyrics in the songs sung by Prince,' Perpich said.
'That is simply not true,' said Perpich, who said he honored Prince because of what he has done for the Minnesota film industry.
Bill Harnist, a Minneapolis salesman, said he attended the Peters' protest because he finds Prince disgusting.
'Personally, that's nothing to be proud of for the state of Minnesota. He's lauded for his contribution to music, which is no contribution at all. In fact I think he's setting music back,' Harnist said.
But Beth Christianson, who took her children, ages 9 and 13, to the concert, disagreed. She said Prince proved he is not 'un-Christian' by asking fans to bring cans of food for charity.
'(The protesters) can think what they want,' said Christianson, 35. 'They've (the children) heard all his music. They really like him.'
The Peters had failed to persuade the City Council to pass a resolution canceling the concerts. Several council members said they objected to Prince's songs but could not censor performances.
The Peters, who run the interdenominational Zion Christian Center in St. Paul, have conducted rallies across the country to burn rock music albums.