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Prince and the Revolution

The Revolution
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Prince in 1986
Background information
Also known as Prince and The Revolution
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota
Genres Pop rock, funk rock, rhythm and blues, heavy metal, hard rock
Occupations Backing band
Years active 1979–1986
Labels Warner Bros., Paisley Park
Associated acts The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Sheila E., The Family, Mazarati, The New Power Generation
Past members Prince
Matt Fink
Bobby Z.
Dez Dickerson
André Cymone
Gayle Chapman
Lisa Coleman
Brown Mark
Wendy Melvoin
Miko Weaver
Eric Leeds
Atlanta Bliss
Susannah Melvoin
Jerome Benton
Wally Safford
Greg Brooks

The Revolution was an American rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 by Prince. Although widely associated with rock music, the band's sound incorporated pop, funk, rhythm and blues, heavy metal and hard rock elements. Before their official break-up, The Revolution had released one studio album, two soundtracks, and two videos. The band is known for its many members, varied in race and gender.

The Revolution rose to international fame in the mid-1980s with Purple Rain, selling over 16 million albums in the United States alone.[1] The band achieved two number-one Billboard 200 albums (Purple Rain and Around the World in a Day), six top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and won three Grammy Awards. The band officially disbanded in 1986 after the Hit n Run – Parade Tour, which supported Parade, the soundtrack for Under the Cherry Moon.

Early years

When Prince formed his backing band after the release of his first album, he followed in the footsteps of one of his idols, Sly Stone by creating a multi-racial, multi-gendered musical ensemble. The band initially consisted of:

Though officially unnamed, Prince experimented with the band acting as a side project known as The Rebels, recording material in 1979 in Colorado, just as a side project to get more music out. The recordings were a group effort with lead vocals by Cymone, Dickerson or Chapman. The project was shelved for unknown reasons, however two of the tracks would later be re-recorded and given away by Prince. "You", became "U", and was released on Paula Abdul's Spellbound album while "If I Love U 2nite" was released by both Mica Paris and Prince's later wife, Mayte Garcia. Paris rerecorded the song from scratch. Garcia's version was rerecorded by Prince.

The Pre-Revolution

On the next two tours following the Prince Tour, the band underwent two line-up changes. Gayle Chapman, who had strong religious beliefs as a member of The Way, quit the band in 1980 due to performing the sexually explicit lyrics of Prince's music, furthermore she disliked having to kiss her bandleader rather suggestively during the song "Head". The end came when she told Prince she planned to go on a trip with her Way group, but Prince wanted her to commit to some short-noticed rehearsals instead. After a long argument, Chapman quit the group to be replaced by Lisa Coleman.[2] Coleman was usually only identified by her first name, while Fink started wearing surgical scrubs on stage and became known as "Doctor" Fink. Fink originally wore a black and white striped prison jumpsuit. However, a member of Rick James' band was doing the same thing and not wanting to copy that, Prince asked Fink, "Do you have any other ideas?" Fink said, "What about a doctor's outfit?" Prince loved the idea, and thus was born Doctor Fink.

The following year, after the Dirty Mind Tour, bass guitarist André Cymone would leave the band. Cymone, whose family gave Prince a home after he left his father's house, left over a number of grievances with Prince - little input in the studio, he wasn't getting credit for his contributions to Prince's music, and in general his desire to start his own career- and would have bitter feelings toward Prince as he later claimed that Prince stole many of his ideas that were used for The Time and that he created the bassline for Controversy's "Do Me, Baby".[2] Ultimately, Cymone was replaced by Mark Brown, renamed Brownmark by Prince.

From 1982–1983, when the band was almost identified as The Revolution, it consisted of:

The words "and the Revolution" can be seen printed backwards on the cover of his fifth album 1999. The band members were curious as to if they were getting a real name, but Prince had held back from fully calling the group The Revolution partly because of Dez Dickerson's wishes to leave the band. When the 1999 Tour ended, Dez Dickerson finally left the band for religious reasons and was replaced by Lisa's childhood friend Wendy Melvoin. Prince told Dickerson that he needed three years from him, and Dickerson wasn't willing to commit. Prince told Dickerson he'd leave him on payroll and honor his contract, which Prince did. Dickerson went on to eventually work for independent Christian record label Star Song. The Melvoin-Coleman tandem shortly thereafter formed a special bond with Prince and greatly influenced his output during the rest of their tenure in the band. Prince's former mostly R&B/funk offerings would be more diversified with rock, pop and classical music elements.

Prince and The Revolution

Debut album: Purple Rain (1984–1985)

Prince and The Revolution's best-selling album, Purple Rain produced by Prince and The Revolution themselves, peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 knocking the Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. from the number one spot.[3] The album was released in the end of June 1984 and featured the singles "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy", "Purple Rain", "I Would Die 4 U", and "Take Me with U".[3] All the singles had accompanying music videos and all charted on the Billboard Hot 100 but only the first four peaked within the top 10 while "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" topped the chart.[3] "When Doves Cry" would become the most successful single from Purple Rain at the time of its release on the pop charts, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Dance and R&B chart.[3]

The song "Purple Rain" won two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Instrumental Composition Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television by S. Reynolds.[3] The album spent 24 weeks at number one and would eventually be certified thirteen times platinum in the United States, six times platinum in Canada and two times platinum in the United Kingdom.[1][4][5] Purple Rain would become the first official appearance of The Revolution.[6] At the time of the release the band contained:

Expansion (1985–1990)

They lasted as such through 1986's Hit n Run – Parade Tour. In 1985, members of the then soon-to-be-defunct R&B/pop group The Family (which, in turn, included former members of another disbanded Prince-associated group, The Time) joined The Revolution, along with people from Sheila E.'s band. The "Counter-Revolution" line-up:

For the Hit n Run – Parade Tour, the augmented Revolution with its several new members began to perform the jazzy arrangements from the album, including the horn sections.

  1. Mico Weaver joined via association with Sheila E. and as session guitarist for The Family.
  2. Susannah Melvoin is a former member of The Family; she was Prince's then-lover and is the twin sister of Wendy Melvoin.
  3. Eric Leeds is a former member of The Family; brother Alan served as Prince's then-tour manager.
  4. Atlanta Bliss joined via association with friend and former bandmate Leeds. He was never a member of the Family.
  5. Jerome Benton is the sole member of The Time to join The Revolution through The Family due to the departures of St. Paul and Jellybean Johnson.

Band members

Prince
Active: 1979–1986
Instruments: Lead vocals, lead guitar, piano
Dez Dickerson
Active: 1979–1983
Instruments: lead guitar, vocals
André Cymone
Active: 1979–1981
Instruments: bass guitar
Gayle Chapman
Active: 1979–1980
Instruments: keyboards
Bobby Z.
Active: 1979–1986
Instruments: Drum, percussion
Matt Fink
Active: 1979–1986 (continued to work with Prince until Graffiti Bridge tour)
Instruments: keyboards
Lisa Coleman
Active: 1980–1986
Instruments: keyboards
Brown Mark
Active: 1982–1986
Instruments: bass guitar
Wendy Melvoin
Active: 1983–1986
Instruments: lead guitar
Miko Weaver
Active: 1985–1986 (continued to work with Prince until Graffiti Bridge tour)
Instruments: lead guitar
Eric Leeds
Active: 1985–1986 (continued to work with Prince until Graffiti Bridge album)
Instruments: saxphone
Matt "Atlanta Bliss" Blistan
Active: 1985–1986 (continued to work with Prince until Graffiti Bridge album)
Instruments: trumpet
Susannah Melvoin
Active: 1985–1986
Instruments: backing vocals
Jerome Benton
Active: 1985–1986
Instruments: dancer, vocals
Wally Safford
Active: 1985–1986 (continued to work with Prince during Sign o' the Times era)
Instruments: dancer, vocals
Greg Brooks
Active: 1985–1986 (continued to work with Prince during Sign o' the Times era)
Instruments: dancer, vocals

Timeline

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Colors =

 id:Vocals              value:gray(0.5)  legend:Vocals
 id:Guitar              value:green      legend:Lead guitar
 id:Bass                value:purple     legend:Bass
 id:Drums               value:blue       legend:Drums
 id:Keyboards               value:red       legend:Keyboards
 id:Sax               value:yellow       legend:Sax
 id:Lines               value:black      legend:Releases

Legend = orientation:horizontal position:bottom

ScaleMajor = increment:1 start:1979

LineData =

 at:25/06/1984 color:black layer:back
 at:22/04/1985 color:black layer:back
 at:31/03/1986 color:black layer:back

BarData =

 bar: Dickerson text:"Dez Dickerson"
 bar:Cymone text:"André Cymone"
 bar:Bobby text:"Bobby Z."
 bar:G text:"Gayle Chapman"
 bar:Matt text:"Matt Fink"
 bar:Brown text:"Brown Mark"
 bar:Lisa text:"Lisa Coleman"
 bar:Melvoin text:"Wendy Melvoin"
 bar:Leeds text:"Eric Leeds"
 bar:Sus text:"Susannah Melvoin"
 bar:Prince text:"Prince"

PlotData=

 width:10 textcolor:black align:left anchor:from shift:(10,-4)
 bar:Prince from:01/01/1979 till:01/05/1986 color:Vocals
 bar:Dickerson from:01/01/1979 till:01/01/1984 color:Guitar
 bar:Cymone from:01/01/1979 till:01/01/1982 color:Bass
 bar:G from:01/01/1979 till:01/01/1980 color:Keyboards
 bar:Matt from:01/01/1979 till:01/05/1986 color:Keyboards
 bar:Bobby from:01/01/1979 till:01/05/1986 color:Drums
 bar:Lisa from:01/01/1981 till:01/05/1986 color:Keyboards  
 bar:Brown from:01/01/1982 till:01/05/1986 color:Bass
 bar:Melvoin from:01/01/1983 till:01/05/1986 color:Guitar
 bar:Leeds from:01/01/1985 till:01/05/1986 color:Sax
 bar:Sus from:01/01/1985 till:01/05/1986 color:Vocals

Unreleased Revolution Album

Dream Factory was an unreleased double LP project recorded by Prince and The Revolution in 1986. Unlike the three previous The Revolution albums, the entire band contributed to most of the original tracks. The album was shelved by Prince following the dissolution of The Revolution.

Dissolution

Despite the stellar performance of the band on tour, discontent in The Revolution had been brewing and was about to reach a boiling point. Some of the original members were unhappy with all of the new additions to the band; Wendy was even bothered with the fact that Susannah, her twin, was in the band, saying "I shared a womb with this person, do I have to share a stage?" Coleman and Wendy Melvoin were also unhappy about the slapstick type antics that Prince had with the bodyguards on stage, feeling it was dismissive of the music and the band. Right before the Hit N Run - Parade Tour was scheduled to start, Brownmark and Wendy & Lisa threatened to quit. Prince dispatched Bobby Z. to the airport and literally caught Wendy Melvoin and Coleman before they boarded. Eventually all three were convinced to ride it out. Prince promised Brownmark a lot of money, but Brownmark settled for $3000 a week, a paltry sum based on other touring bands. He turned down a much more lucrative gig as bassist for Stevie Nicks, who was going on tour at that time. Brown has said that Prince never followed through on "all that money". But as the tour ended, on the final night in Yokohama, Japan, Prince smashed up all of his guitars after a final encore of "Sometimes It Snows In April".

Shortly after the Parade tour in October 1986, after all the tension between Prince, Wendy Melvoin, and Coleman due to his relationship with Susannah, Prince invited Wendy Melvoin and Coleman to dinner at his rented Beverly Hills home and fired them both.[2] Unhappy with their lack of credit and creativity, Wendy & Lisa went on to perform as a duo. Susannah ended up leaving the Revolution too, following a hurtful breakup with Prince, and performed for a time with Wendy & Lisa as a backup singer in their band.

He then called Bobby Z. to tell him that he was being replaced by the more versatile Sheila E, although he was kept on payroll for quite a few years after the fact, honoring Z's contract. Bobby Z would release a solo album in 1989.

Brownmark was asked to stay but quit. Although he said it was "partly out of loyalty to the others" and also because he was "unhappy with the direction of Prince's music at the time", it was probably so he could concentrate on his burgeoning career as a solo artist and as a record producer for himself and other artists.[2]

Matt Fink remained with Prince until 1991, when similar to the exit of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis from The Time, Matt Fink told Prince he wasn't available for two dates at the Rock in Rio festival as he was busy producing for another band at the time and found himself replaced by Tommy Barbarella.[2] However, Fink also stated in a 2001 interview that he was tired of being in the band. When Prince filmed Graffiti Bridge, Prince wanted Fink to "rehearse the band" and was told that "there wasn't really anywhere in the movie for him." After the ensuing Nude Tour, essentially a greatest hits-type tour, Fink left for a career writing music for video games, and working at K-Tel Records, based out of Minneapolis. Unlike his bandmates Fink did not immediately release any solo material, an album not being released until 2001.

In 2000 there was rumor of a reunion and a new album called Roadhouse Garden, but Prince scrapped the plans after Wendy & Lisa backed out of the project. Prince asked Wendy & Lisa to come to Minneapolis to finish Roadhouse Garden. Wendy & Lisa asked that Prince pay for their hotel and expenses while in Minneapolis. Prince refused, and not wanting to spend all their own money on a Prince project, they declined to work on the album. Prince would later tell people to "ask Wendy & Lisa", when asked about the status of Roadhouse Garden.

Legacy

Mini-reunions of The Revolution have taken place in several forms over the past decade.

In 2000, Prince had a celebration concert in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota and asked if any former bandmates wished to perform. Dr. Fink, Bobby Z. and Brown Mark appeared and joined Prince on stage to perform the song "America".

On December 13, 2003, Sheila E. organized a concert for charity known as the 1st Annual Family Jamm which featured several of Prince's protégés, including the entire Revolution, without Prince. They played six songs including "Mountains", "Purple Rain", and "Baby I'm a Star". That next year, Wendy Melvoin performed a live rendition of Musicology track "Reflection" with Prince on Tavis Smiley's PBS television program.[7]

At the 2006 BRIT Awards, a somewhat reformed Revolution once again backed Prince, as he reunited with Wendy, Lisa and Sheila E., while also featuring former New Power Generation member Morris Hayes and played "Te Amo Corazón" (from Prince's 3121 album), "Fury" (also from 3121), "Purple Rain", and "Let's Go Crazy". Sheila E. played drums only on "Purple Rain", playing percussion for the rest of the songs.

On February 19, 2012, The Revolution (sans Prince) performed a reunion/benefit concert in Minneapolis at First Avenue, where the Purple Rain movie was filmed.

Discography

The Revolution discography
Releases
Studio albums 1
Singles 13
Video albums 2
Music videos 14
Soundtracks 2

Studio albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[3]
AUS
[8]
AUT
[9]
CAN
[10]
GER
[11]
NLD
[12]
NOR
[13]
SWE
[14]
SWI
[15]
UK
[16]
CAN
[4]
UK
[5]
US
[1]
1985 Around the World in a Day [A] 1 12 7 16
[17]
10 10 1 8 5 Gold 2× Platinum

Soundtrack albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[3]
AUS
[8]
AUT
[9]
CAN
[10]
GER
[11]
NLD
[12]
NOR
[13]
SWE
[14]
SWI
[15]
UK
[16]
CAN
[4]
UK
[5]
US
[1]
1984 Purple Rain [A]
  • Released: June 25, 1984
  • Label: Warner Bros.
1 1 8 1
[18]
5 4 3 7 7 6× Platinum 2× Platinum 13× Platinum
1986 Parade [A]
  • Released: March 31, 1986
  • Label: Warner Bros.
3 8 7 11
[19]
6 10 5 2 4 Platinum Platinum

Singles

Year Song Peak chart positions Album
US
[3]
US
R&B

[3]
US
Dance

[3]
AUS
[8]
AUT
[9]
GER
[11]
NLD
[12]
NOR
[13]
SWE
[14]
SWI
[15]
UK
[16]
1984 "When Doves Cry" 1 1 1 1 19 16 10 18 17 4 Purple Rain
"Let's Go Crazy" [A] 1 1 1 10 7
"Purple Rain" [A] 2 4 41 4 5 5 5 5 8
"I Would Die 4 U" [A] 8 11 50 96 58
"Take Me with U" (with Apollonia Kotero) 25 40 7
1985 "Paisley Park" [A] 38 18 Around the World in a Day
"Raspberry Beret" [A] 2 3 4 13 35 25
"Pop Life" [A] 7 8 5 67 65 60
"America" [A] 46 35
1986 "Kiss" [A] 1 1 1 2 8 4 10 16 3 6 Parade
"Mountains" [A] 23 15 11 45 32 45
"Anotherloverholenyohead" [A] 63 18 21 36
"Girls & Boys" [A] 21 27 11

Video albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[3]
AUS
[8]
AUT
[9]
CAN
[10]
GER
[11]
NLD
[12]
NOR
[13]
SWE
[14]
SWI
[15]
UK
[16]
CAN
[4]
UK
[5]
US
[1]
1984 Purple Rain [A]
  • Released: December 14, 1984
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
1
[20]
1985 Prince and the Revolution: Live [A]
  • Released: March 6, 1985
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
1
[21]
2× Platinum

Tours

See also

References

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