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 popfunkrhythm and bluesheavy 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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Debut album: Purple Rain (1984–1985)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Active: 1979–1986
Instruments: Lead vocalslead guitar, piano
Dez Dickerson
Active: 1979–1983
Instruments: lead guitarvocals
André Cymone
Active: 1979–1981
Instruments: bass guitar
Gayle Chapman
Active: 1979–1980
Instruments: keyboards
Bobby Z.
Active: 1979–1986
Instruments: Drumpercussion
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
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