Prince and The Revolution were pop culture gods in the ’80s when they collaborated to make some of the best-known music of the era — including the iconic album Purple Rain, featuring classics including “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
“He was a master chef, he was the black hat chef and we were his crack kitchen team,” Wendy Melvoin recently told Chicago’s WGN-TV while sitting alongside her bandmates. “But he chose us because we were at the top of our fields. If he wanted to get a song finished and wanted to have a certain feel, which the Purple Rain record has, we sat in a room and did these songs together.”
The group, which Prince formed in 1979 in Minneapolis and together went on to produce six top 10 singles before amicably parting ways in 1986, says they needed time to process complicated emotions after Prince’s death — and admit to still feeling raw onstage.
“It really did take a long time for us to get to this point,” Lisa Coleman said during the WGN-TV interview. “We’re still dealing with it a little bit. I think with each show it gets a little bit better. Even during the show we might get on the stage with some emotions that might be unpredictable. Just seeing the crowd and getting the response that we’ve gotten … to be able to share it with the crowd and go through an experience like that together makes everything better for everyone.”
Prince was just 57 when he was found unresponsive inside an elevator within his iconic Paisley Park home and studio outside Minneapolis. An autopsy later confirmed he died of an opioid overdose.
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Drummer Bobby Rivkin (aka Bobby Z) was close to the megastar for more than four decades, and told the Chicago Sun-Times that learning about his death was an “out-of-body experience.”
Even so, he admitted Prince lived longer than the star himself predicted, revealing that the icon “used to tell us he was going to be part of the ‘27 Club’ when he was in early 20s. He identified with Janis [Joplin] and Jimi [Hendrix].”
Although Rivkin said Prince thought of himself as a rock star even before he was famous, the musician was generous with his time and talent even after megastardom took hold. He had a close and generous relationship with members of The Revolution, and they said he was always eager to hear their ideas.
“He really knew what he wanted out of us,” Rivkin told WGN-TV. “It was just amazing — the colors in his head … he would give us leeway and we had to create with the maestro.”
Now, the group feels his absence acutely onstage — and are trying to honor his legacy with fans who are mourning him as well.
“We understand this is not just about coming to see a band live, this is about grieving one of the greatest artists and musicians of all time,” Rivkin told the Sun-Times. “We know there is [a] humongous hole on the stage.”