By: Renee Grant
Next month will mark an anniversary so many of us never thought we’d see, it will have been one year since the tragic and sudden passing of music iconoclast Prince. In the time since his passing, many tributes have taken place, and fans all over the world have flocked to his former estate in Minneapolis, Paisley Park, which has been turned into a museum documenting the life and artistry of the incredible man.
Last fall, on Labor Day weekend, Prince’s former band The Revolution took to the stage at First Avenue in Minneapolis, a club that inspired much of Prince’s early work, to pay tribute to their friend. 98.1 WOGL’s John Diaz was there, having been one of Prince’s biggest fans. He’s seen The Purple One in concert countless times and was on hand hoping for catharsis in the music. He found it, and that is thanks in part to hearing the band play some of their most recognizable tunes.
The Revolution formed in 1979 when Prince joined drummer Bobby Z and keyboardist Matt Fink. Over the next four years, several formations would emerge until finally, Prince found the band he felt could master his musical vision. The final line-up included Lisa Coleman on keyboards/piano, Wendy Melvoin on guitar, and Brown Mark on bass.
Diaz took the time to speak with Bobby Z about the passing of his legendary friend, and the upcoming tribute reunion show they’ll be playing at the TLA on April 29th and April 30th.
“This loss is so profound,” Bobby says. “For us to have a da Vinci or Shakespeare in our midst and then lose that. It’s just been so incredible that we felt we just needed to recreate the music that Mozart wrote.
“We need Prince’s music. I guess it’s like if Mozart had a band and Mozart was gone, people needed to hear Mozart played on and played by these people till they were gone. That’s really all we’re doing.”
Prince’s music was a force, and his incredible career spanned almost 40 years. Bobby Z says although The Revolution will never be the same without Prince, they are coming together to help the fans heal and to keep playing the amazing music we’ve all came to love. The band is the original group that played in Prince’s breakout film Purple Rain. What fans may not know is that the album version of Purple Rain, Baby I’m A Star and I would Die 4 U was recorded live during a concert on August 3, 1983.
“You know, he was telling us frantically that we were making history,” Bobby says of the moment. “He had himself convinced, he had the mobile truck ready and we were rehearsed and ready.
“He made us believe, you know? And for a moment in time, we were all transported to this actual live version of Purple Rain in a way. It was a miraculous performance. To this day, he made us feel superhuman and that’s what Prince could do. He could make you feel that you could be better than yourself because he was so amazing. And he just gave you the confidence to be amazing… and worked you to death to get there.”
The last time the Revolution played in Philadelphia was November 24, 1984! Bobby Z says he remembers playing the shows at the Spectrum that Thanksgiving weekend with lots of Eagles fans. “It was a fantastic performance in Philadelphia. Playing Philadelphia is an honor. I consider it a major cultural, historical center of the country and it just feels special to be there. I can’t wait to play there again and see everybody.”
You can listen to the full interview with Bobby Z below.
If you’d like to see The Revolution when they come to Philly, the April 29th show has sold out, but tickets are still available to the April 30th show.