- People for whom Prince played every single instrument, wrote every single note (cleverly disguised with pseudonyms on the album credits) and sometimes even the lyrics. All they had to do was just add their vocals on top. For example: Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6.
- People for whom Prince composed and produced but they had their own input, including lyrics, co-writing credits and occasionally playing instruments. For example: Sheila E., New Power Generation and Ingrid Chavez.
- People for whom Prince sporadically contributed material but otherwise didn't do much. For example: Sheena Easton, Mavis Staples, Martika, and others.
- Actual bands with which Prince was involved. For example: Madhouse and 94 East.
- Formerly associated with him in some way but then broke away completely. Example: Wendy and Lisa, Dr. Fink, Brown Mark, Bobby Z., David Z., and so on.
- Stuff which fits into more than one category. For example: The Time and The Family. This will be duly noted.
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Just added vocals
"Come on baby, drive me wild."Vanity 6 deserve a bit of a special mention since they were the first side-project Prince came up with on his own and produced an album for.note So, basically the whole madness of Prince's empire of associates starts here.Vanity 6 were a Girl Group formed by Prince sometime in 1981, supposedly after watching A Star Is Born and thinking "Oh hey, that's neat. I wanna do that!" He managed to gather together three of his female friends, Susan Moonsie, Brenda Bennett and Jamie Shoop. We can only presume how awkward the meeting was when Prince told them that they would be named "The Hookers", would perform in lingerie and sing about sex a lot. The sheer fact that he wasn't comically chased out of the room is amazing in itself.Somehow, presumably through his immense charm, he managed to convince them to record a few demos. He then met nude model and B movie actress Denise Matthews, famous for her widely acclaimed roles in Terror Train and Tanya's Island. Also, a certain part of the body. An awestruck Prince kicked out Shoop and installed his new girlfriend Matthews as the frontwoman instead, giving her the Stage Name "Vanity". You Do Not Want To Know one of the stories about its origin. But if you do: Prince wanted to name her "Vagina", clarifying that it would be pronounced "vag-EE-na", because that's how you pronounce it in Minnesota or something. She predictably went "dude, WTF?" and managed to bargain it down to "Vanity".note With the Vanity-Bennett-Moonsie lineup in place and a healthy supply of lingerie and Intercourse with You lyrics, Prince renamed the group Vanity 6. The "6" supposedly came from the amount of breasts in the group, thus making Vanity 6 the only band to have been named after a case of My Eyes Are Up Here.The group released one album, Vanity 6 in 1982. Prince wrote and produced it almost completely (disguising this fact by crediting himself as "The Starr Company" and randomly assigning credits around, with Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson managing to sneak in a credit for "He's So Dull", Jesse Johnson co-writing "Bite the Beat" and Terry Lewis co-writing "If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)".) The album itself represented a pretty generic example of Prince's Minneapolis sound, with two forays into synthy Power Pop ("He's So Dull" and "Bite the Beat") and lots of exaggerated, Narmy lyrics about Intercourse with You sung by three women with average vocal talent. Needless to say, it became a hit and spawned a big hit single with "Nasty Girl". "He's So Dull" also appeared in National Lampoon's Vacation.Vanity 6 broke up a year later in 1983, when Vanity suddenly dropped out of the Prince camp and gave up her role in Purple Rain. Undaunted, Prince replaced her with Patricia "Apollonia" Kotero and re-named them "Apollonia 6". Vanity went on to release two albums on the Motown label and dated Mötley Crüe's bass player, Nikki Sixx. She also started to abuse drugs, to the point where she was hospitalized and given a kidney transplant in 1994. From that point onward, Vanity reverted to her birthname and dedicated her life to God, becoming an evangelical minister in 1998. She died in 2016 at age 57.
—Vanity 6, "Drive Me Wild"
Vanity 6 provides examples of:
- Call-and-Response Song: "If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)".
- The Cameo: Prince himself plays the girl on the other end of the line in "If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)". This was recorded well before he started speeding up his voice for female vocals and he already proved he could pull off a falsetto, so it's more like, "If a Guy Answers." In fact, Prince was trying to imitate Morris Day's voice.
- Prince also appears in the unreleased "Vibrator" as the shopkeep that sells Vanity batteries for her "body massager".
- Double Entendre: "Bite the Beat", which is more than likely about cunnilingus.
- Girl Group
- Good Bad Girl: All three members were boxed into a certain personality. Vanity became this by default.
- The Immodest Orgasm: The aforementioned "Vibrator".
- Intercourse with You + Bawdy Song: 75% of their catalogue is this.
- Insistent Terminology: In "Vibrator", Vanity insists the titular item is a "body massager". No-one she talks to is fooled by this pretense.
- Lad Ette: Brenda chose the role of the cigarette-smoking tough chick. Probably the best straw she could draw.
- New Wave / Power Pop: arguably "He's So Dull" and "Bite the Beat".
- Sampling: Prince later sampled the orgasm in "Vibrator" a few times for his band Madhouse, and for his own song "Orgasm" off the album Come. Vanity is credited as "she knows" for the latter. The orgasm was also sampled in Lady Cab Driver from 1999.
- Sex Sells: Subverted, in that they didn't sell so well.
- Self-Titled Album
- Spoken Word in Music: "If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)", which was mostly a rap song; and several other snippets throughout the album.
- from "Nasty Girl": "I don't like this groove. Try and give me somethin' I can croon to? Catch my drift?"from "Bite the Beat": ""That's right, there'll be no more wet dreams for Brenda. At least not tonight."
- Stage Names: Vanity.
- Unusual Euphemism: From "Wet Dream": "I know he could deliver a dam to the river anytime."
"I'm a sex shooter, shooting love in your direction.Vanity 6 except with Apollonia instead of Vanity.Really, that's pretty much it. After Vanity resigned from the band in 1983, Prince found actress Patricia Kotero after a frantic casting call. Re-christened "Apollonia", she was installed as the new frontwoman and the band was very appropriately renamed "Apollonia 6".Apollonia played Prince's girlfriend in Purple Rain and the entire band made an appearance. An album, Apollonia 6, followed in 1984 but by this point Prince lost interest in his Girl Group, since Apollonia told him that she was Only in It for the Money. While Apollonia 6 featured much better production values and backing vocals from Wendy & Lisa and Jill Jones, it suffered from even weaker material than before and even more over-the-top "explicit" lyrics that stumbled bravely into Narmland, as seen by the hilariously stupid "Sex Shooter" and the Hot for Student song "Happy Birthday Mr. Christian". You know you're in a bad position when what's most notable about your album is what songs didn't make it - reportedly, Prince had considered "Manic Monday", "17 Days", "The Glamorous Life" and his duet with Apollonia, "Take Me With U", for inclusion on Apollonia 6 before he geave them to The Bangles, himself, Sheila E. and himself again (on the Purple Rain soundtrack), respectively.The band broke up for good a year later. Brenda managed to snag herself backing vocals on "17 Days", and release a country album in 2011, but otherwise hasn't done anything in the interim; Apollonia continued with her acting/modeling career and dropped a solo album in 1988; and Susan… we'll get back to you on that.Fun side-note? The chorus of The Pixies' "Debaser" was originally "Shed, Apollonia!" before it mutated into "Un chien andalusia!", thus making Apollonia 6 the only Prince-associated band to get a Shout-Out in a Pixies song.
I'm a sex shooter, come and play with my affection."
I'm a sex shooter, come and play with my affection."
—Apollonia 6, "Sex Shooter"
Apollonia 6 provides examples of:
- Girl Group
- Gratuitous Spanish: Since Apollonia could speak it fluently, Prince used it to full effect on "In a Spanish Villa".
- Hot for Student: "Happy Birthday Mr. Christian".
- The Immodest Orgasm: Brenda fires one off at the end of "Some Kind of Lover". She's whispers, "I'm embarrassed", directly afterward.
- Intercourse with You + Bawdy Song: 85% of their catalogue, easily.
- New Wave
- Piss-Take Rap: "Ooh She She Wa Wa". Actually, Apollonia 6 is pretty much a Piss Take Album.
- Self-Titled Album
- Spoken Word in Music: "In a Spanish Villa". Apollonia makes out with a man named Oliver in a Spanish villa for the duration of the song.
- "Ooh She She Wa Wa" opens with a lengthy spoken word section. "Some Kind of Lover" also includes some as well.
- Stage Names: Apollonia.
Jill Jones (later moved to "no involvement")
Jill Jones was a backup singer for R&B star Teena Marie back at the start of The '80s, and this is exactly how she met Prince during his 1980 Dirty Mind tour. She was quickly recruited as a backing singer for The Revolution itself, adding backing vocals to several songs on 1999 and appearing in the videos for "1999" and "Little Red Corvette". She had a bit part as a waitress in Purple Rain and a cameo in its shittier sequel Graffiti Bridge, in a scene where she takes off an undergarment to end a conflict with Prince. Squ- wait, WTF? Oh, wait, this is the guy who came up with the idea for Vanity 6. Nevermind.Prince repaid her contributions to 1999 by producing her solo album, Jill Jones, which was released in 1987. Once again, he did everything and wrote all the songs and Jones merely had to put vocals on top. However, this album gained actual positive reviews from critics, mainly because Jones actually had vocal talent and could sing, as opposed to the competent vocals of Vanity and Apollonia, or the pleasant-but-bland vocals of Sheila E. and The Family.After this, Jones did... well, nothing really. A second album got as far as the demo stage before being cancelled. She did tour with Chic in 1996 though. She finally emerged with a new, completely Prince-less pop-rock album in 2001.Discography:
- Jill Jones (1987)
- Two (2001)
- Living for the Weekend (2009)
Jill Jones provides examples of:
The Time (later moved to "actual band" and kinda embody "no involvement")
"What time is it?!"
—Morris Day's Catch-Phrase.
"The real party's across the street, featurin' da greatest band in da world... MORRIS DAY AN'A TIME!!!"The most successful Prince associates, and Jay and Silent Bob's favorites. And probably the most famous too.The members of The Time are as follows:
- Morris Day - vocals
- Jerome Benton - vocals, comic foil, percussion
- Jellybean Johnson - drums
- Jimmy Jam - keyboards
- Monte Moir - keyboards
- Terry Lewis - bass
- Jesse Johnson - guitar
- The Time (1981)
- What Time Is It? (1982)
- Ice Cream Castle (1984)
- Pandemonium (1990)
- Condensate (2011)
The Time provides examples of:
- Blatant Lies: Several early songs (notably "777-9311") include moments where Morris calls for band members by name, so that they can solo. In actuality, Prince played every note for them. Averted on 1990's "Jerk Out" and everything on "Pandemonium" past it: once Morris declares, "Cut 'em, Jesse", Jesse Johnson actually solos for himself. The version of "The Bird" heard on their album Ice Cream Castles is a live cut, and is also the only time the band is heard playing their own instruments.
- In an extension of this, The Time were credited with performing every note on Vanity 6's album, when it was actually all Prince again.
- From "Wild and Loose": "Don't worry baby, I can keep a secret for as long as snow is white / Hey Jesse, come here man, guess what I did last night?"
- Call-and-Response Song: A staple of their repetoire. Live performances transformed more of their catalogue into this type of song.
- Catch-Phrase: "What time is it?", "Ain't nobody bad, like me", "Now I know that's right" and "Somebody bring me a mirror (so I can look at X)"note
- Chivalrous Pervert or Handsome Lech: Morris Day.
- Dance Sensation: Parodied with "The Walk". Played straight with "Jungle Love" and "The Bird".
- Early Installment Weirdness: Despite being The Casanova, Morris sang both a ballad about pining over a love that had moved on, and a new wave track about the end of high school, on the band's first album. These topics were never revisited.
- Epic Rocking: "Get It Up", "Cool", "The Stick", "Wild and Loose", "The Walk", "Ice Cream Castles", "The Bird", "Jerk Out", "Chocolate", "Skillet".
- Filler: "Dreamland" from Pandemonium is an extended dream sequence in which The Time reunite on stage. It is the first 2:30 on the album. The short skits "Yount" and "Pretty Little Women" also qualify, though "Yount" is actually kinda funny.
- Genre Savvy: In "Chili Sauce", Morris tells Jerome in an aside to prompt Morris to stop wooing on a girl by the number 17. He then fills the next 16 phrases (or loops of the backing track) with his bravado, stopping directly at the start of phrase 17. She falls for him.
- Intercourse with You: The lengthy jams on their first album, "Get It Up" and "The Stick."
- Large Ham: Morris Day.
- Self-Deprecation: The conversation in "Wild and Loose", as well as several moments in "Jerk Out".
- Self-Titled Album
- Stealth Parody: "After Hi School", "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody" and "Gigolos Get Lonely Too".
- Something Completely Different: The heavy rock of "Skillet".
- Spoken Word in Music: Some of their songs eschew ending in favor of repeating the backing track and adding dialogue that may or may not be all that funny. The song "Chili Sauce" is five straight minutes of seductive dialogue, while "Wild and Loose" features two sets of dialogue at once: groupies who were happy to have met Morris in the left channel and the band in the right, culminating in Morris meeting the girls again in the center channel, unable to remember who they are.
- Title by Number: "777-9311" was named after Dez Dickerson's actual phone number (in-universe, the reporter in "Grace" lists it as her number.) Dickerson had to change it after receiving unwanted calls.
The Family (overlaps with "actual band")
"But nothing compares to you."Now, here's a bit of a trickier case. After The Time disintegrated for the first time in 1984, Prince restructured the band with a few new musicians and renamed it "The Family". Its members were as follows:
—The Family, "Nothing Compares 2 U"
- Paul "St. Paul" Peterson - vocals, keyboards, bass
- Susannah Melvoin - vocals, keyboards
- Jerome Benton - vocals, comic foil, percussion
- Jellybean Johnson - drums
- Eric Leeds - saxophone, flute
The Family provides examples of:
"So please, don't step to the mic. In fact, please step away from it. Far, far away from it."Yes, Carmen Electra used to be a back-up dancer for Prince (in fact, he gave her the Stage Name "Carmen Electra") in the early nineties and had a self-titled album produced by him in 1993. The album's famous for being a complete shitburger. A really funny skewering of it, complete with some audio samples, is available on i-Mockery.
—i-Mockery's review of Carmen Electra
Carmen Electra provides examples of:
- Mood Whiplash: The entire album focuses on Carmen's hot body and "impressive" rhyming skills, until a news report on the Exxon Valdez oil spill is heard. The last song suddenly turns into an Earth awareness campaign.
- Piss-Take Rap: Ms. Electra herself raps for the full duration of the album. And it is awful.
- Pretty Fly (For a White Guy): Carmen's attempt at being street, especially when rapping about the Exxon Valdez spill.
- Product Placement: Prince used the second segue on this album to subtly advertise many other songs that he worked on, via pretending to dial through a radio: "Hit U in the Socket" by Rosie Gaines, "In a Word or 2" by Monie Love, "The Voice" by Mavis Staples, "Sexy M.F." by Prince and the New Power Generation, "With This Tear" by Celine Dion and "Goldnigga" by the New Power Generation. This serves absolutely no purpose in the context of the album.
- Sexophone: Painfully invoked on another segue, complete with crashing waves.
With their own input
Sheila E. (overlaps with "sporadic contributions")
"She wants to lead the glamorous lifeDrumming runs pretty big in Sheila Escovedo's family: her father Pete is a famous percussionist, her uncle Alejandro drummed for various punk bands before starting a solo career, her other uncle Coke played with Santana, her other other uncle Javier founded the seminal punk band The Zeros, and Tito Puente was her godfather.It's little surprise then that Sheila took up drumming and quickly became really good at it, playing with such luminaries as George Duke, Marvin Gaye, Alphonso Johnson, Herbie Hancock and Lionel Richie before her early twenties.Prince first met Sheila when attending a concert where she was playing with her dad. He quickly brought her into her entourage, where she contributed drums and percussion in the studio and provided vocals to "Let's Go Crazy"'s famous B-side, "Erotic City" (and some other vocals here and there, like the "transmississippirap" on "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night"). She secured herself the position of drummer for Prince after The Revolution disbanded, but left Prince in 1989 due to a collapsed lung. This split has notably been free of the really bad blood that other splits engendered, and the two have collaborated occasionally to this day.While Sheila did attract attention for her vocals on "Erotic City", she quickly proved she was not another Vanity: while Prince did produce her first two solo albums, she got some co-writing credits and added her drumming all over the place. Most notably, Sheila at first broke from the very explicit "personas" that had been assumed by Prince's previous Girl Groups: her lyrics were decidedly PG-rated, dealing with love (not Intercourse with You, at least not yet) and sung in a pleasant, girl-next-door voice. In fact, many of the funk-pop songs existed solely for the sake of lots and lots of percussion solos. Nobody seemed to mind though. These two albums, The Glamorous Life and Romance 1600, were well-received and spawned two really long hits, the super-catchy ditty about how materialism's, like, superficial, man, "The Glamorous Life" (9 minutes) and a duet with Prince entitled "A Love Bizarre" (12 minutes!). Prince was noticeably less involved with the self-titled Sheila E., letting David Z. produce the album and writing only a few songs.Sheila's solo albums after leaving Prince's organization were New Sound Albums somewhat, introducing Latin and jazz influences into her upbeat pop-funk. She took a long break from her solo career after the horribly-titled Sex Cymbal, presumably out of embarrassment that she put out an album titled Sex Cymbalnote , and played with various other musicians (including being part of three versions of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band). She also reunites with Prince every once in a while for live concerts and contributed to his album 3121.Discography:
Without love, it ain't much."
Without love, it ain't much."
—Sheila E., "The Glamorous Life"
- The Glamorous Life (1984)
- Romance 1600 (1985)
- Sheila E. (1987)
- Sex Cymbal (1991)
- Writes of Passage (2000)
- Heaven (2001)
Sheila E. provides examples of:
- Epic Rocking: "The Glamorous Life", "Oliver's House", "A Love Bizarre", all of which fall squarely into Ear Worm territory.
- Foil: She played this role in Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band concerts, especially during the solos where Ringo would comically fail to keep up with her.
- Piss-Take Rap: Averted - her Motor Mouth reading of Edward Lear's "The Table and the Chair" on "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" is actually good. (The liner notes credit it as "transmississippirap" since Prince recorded her doing it over the phone from, well, the other side of the Mississippi River.)
- Pun-Based Title: Sex Cymbal, so bad it hurts.
- Self-Titled Album: Interestingly, done for the third album.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Toy Box". It sounds like a normal funk song at first, and then right at the end Sheila blind-sides you with a long, shouty rant that makes you wonder who spiked her coffee and with what.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Dear Michaelangelo", "Toy Box", "Romance 1600" and "Bedtime Story" have a special ability to make you scratch your head and go "huh?".
- Word Salad Title: "Merci for the Speed of a Mad Clown in the Summer"... what?
- You Make Me Sic: Michelangelo, not Michaelangelo.note
Ingrid Chavez is one of those fringe figures in Prince's entourage. That's probably because she ain't an actual singer, but a poet instead. Prince was impressed by her poetry and quickly recruited her into his ever-expanding harem-cum-musical empire, first letting her contribute vocals to Lovesexy. Around this time, she cultivated a mysterious appearance and was nicknamed "The Spirit Child". OK, sure, whatever, at least Prince didn't try to rename her to "Clitoris" or something like that.Chavez next played Prince's romantic interest in Graffiti Bridge. It was during the filming that she, Lenny Kravitz and Andre Betts co-wrote and recorded Madonna's famous hit "Justify My Love" - reportedly, Chavez came up with most of the lyrics and Kravitz thought sampling Public Enemy would be a nifty idea.note A solo album followed, May 19, 1992 (released, oddly enough, in 1991), which combined Chavez's spoken-word poetry with atmospheric backing music composed by Prince and was favorably reviewed, one critic comparing it to "an entire album of 'Justify My Love's".Chavez drifted out of Prince's
Ingrid Chavez provides examples of:
New Power Generation
New Power Generation (overlaps with "actual band")
Here's another interesting case. In 1990, Prince started forming a new backing band for himself, after the Revolution imploded in 1986 and his newer, untitled backing band was starting to wear thin. He christened them the New Power Generation and their members were:
- Levi Seacer, Jr. - rhythm guitar (1991-1993)
- Kat Dyson - rhythm guitar (1996-1997)
- "Rev." Michael Scott - rhythm guitar (1997-2001, 2004, 2006)
- Sonny T. - bass (1991-1996)
- Rhonda Smith - bass (1996-2004)
- Tommy Barbarella - keyboards (1991-1996)
- Michael Bland - drums (1991-1996)
- Kirk Johnson - percussion, backing vocals, drums, drum machine programming (1993-2000)
- Tony M. - rapping (1991-1993)
- Mayte Garcia - backing vocals (1992-1996)
- Goldnigga (1993)
- Exodus (1995)
- Newpower Soul (1998)
- "The War" single (1998)
- "Peace" and "The Daisy Chain" singles (2001)
New Power Generation provides examples of:
- And You Were There: Invoked by Sonny in the closing minute of Exodus.
- Concept Album: Goldnigga loosely based itself around phone calls between members. For example, in one segue it's mentioned that "the record company" wants a song with a positive message, and another band member responds by saying he's got a new song to try out. Cue said song. Exodus goes into full blown concept with 12 of its 21 tracks containing Spoken Word in Music. On this album, the band show up at a nightclub only for them to be playing "ladies night" fare. After the band kicks out the DJ and plays their own music, the DJ gets back at the instigator Sonny by introducing him to two women who will poison him later via a bowl of soup. The soup makes him dream he and the band are in the future taking over a spaceship from a guy who wants to use his "endorphinmachine" to take over the world. Then Sonny wakes up.
- Epic Rocking: "Johnny" and "The Exodus Has Begun", amongst others.
- N-Word Privileges: Goldnigga.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Prince calling himself Tora Tora in order to sing lead vocals on Exodus. It didn't fool anyone.
- Revolving Door Band: The list above provides only half of the people who have been part of the NPG.
- Spoken Word in Music: Some on Goldnigga and tons on Exodus. The latter features additional skits unrelated to the shoestring plot in which Sonny watches television; the show he's watching is a skit within a skit by Prince and each one goes on for three minutes a piece (but are surprisingly funny.) Meanwhile, the single "The War" is 26 minutes of Fauxlosophic Narration.
Mayte first joined Prince's
Mayte Garcia provides examples of:
TámarOne of the latest Princettes, Ashley Támar Davis sang backing vocals on Prince's album 3121 on the song "Beautiful, Loved and Blessed", and played a few live concerts in some small clubs.Prince co-wrote and co-produced (yes, you guessed it!) an album for her named Milk & Honey. It was set to be released in August 2006, but got delayed and later cancelled. A few promotional copies have surfaced after being sold in Japan, and one of its songs, "Kept Woman", was re-recorded and handed off to Bria Valente.
"A whole lotta people are gonna get pregnant off this!"Another protege in the grand tradition of Vanity and Apollonia, Brenda "Bria Valente" Fuentes began her association with Prince in late 2006, contributing backing vocals to "The Song of the Heart" (from the movie Happy Feet) and his album Planet Earth.Prince produced a solo album for her named Elixer, in 2009. He described it as "a quiet storm" album, raising the prospect that he still hasn't abandoned his search for erotic sounds and would give the world another hilarious trip to Narmland. Elixer was bundled together with Prince's two solo albums LOtUSFLOW3R and MPLSound as a three-disc set, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. Because we all know it would've been a huge hit by itself... It usually got singled out as the weakest album of the three-disc set by reviewers.
—Prince, describing Valente's album to the Los Angeles Times (clearly oblivious about his track record)
3RDEYEGiRLPrince's final backing band, 3RDEYEGiRL was a three-piece rock and blues outfit. Not much is known about them presently, but they've proven in concerts and television appearances that they were a very solid and promising band. Prince placed the call to each member between 2010 and 2012, and created the band name himself – he didn't tell the girls the name, instead letting them find out when Jimmy Fallon called them by it during a live television appearance. Unfortunately, Prince being Prince, he had to screw them out of solo success by releasing his own album ART OFFICIAL AGE on the same day as their album.Personnel:
- Donna Grantis - guitar
- Ida Nielsen - bass
- Hannah Ford Welton - drums
- PLECTRUMELECTRUM (2014)
Sporadic contributions and one-offs
"Something something something toy soldiers!"Martika was a pop singer and actress in The '80s, mostly known for appearing on Kids Incorporated and... uh, Mr. T's motivational video Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool!.Her first album, Martika, was released in 1988. It spawned a #1 hit single, "Toy Soldiers", which Eminem later Sampled Up for his own song "Like Toy Soldiers", and two other hits, "More Than You Know" and a cover of Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move".Her second album, Martika's Kitchen, was released in 1991. This album was produced and co-written by Prince, who combined Martika's pop music with elements from gospel, jazz, Funk, R&B and Cuban music and lyrically explored such Serious Business topics as crack babies, racism and homophobia. An interesting melange to be sure, which eventually kind of flunked on the charts. Thus endeth Martika's association with Prince.Discography:
—Martika, "Toy Soldiers".
- Martika (1988)
- Martika's Kitchen (1991)
- Violince (2004)
- Oppera (2006)
Martika provides examples of:
Much like Martika, Mavis Staples had already had a career going before her association with Prince. And it wasn't too bad either, what with being famous for having a great voice, recording with her family as The Staple Singers and being a civil rights activist in The '60s.Staples collaborated with Prince for a few years, contributing the song "Melody Cool" to the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack and having two solo albums, Time Waits For No One (1989) and The Voice, co-written and produced by him. And that's... kind of it actually.Discography:
- Mavis Staples (1969)
- Only for the Lonely (1970)
- A Piece of the Action (1977)
- Oh What a Feeling (1979
- Mavis Staples (1984)
- Don't Change Me Now (1988)
- Time Waits for No One (1989)
- The Voice (1993)
- Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson with Lucky Peterson (1996)
- Have a Little Faith (2004)
- We'll Never Turn Back (2007)
"My baby takes the morning trainSheena Easton was a Scottish singer back in The '80s who scored a few hits occasionally, most notably with "Morning Train (9 to 5)" and "For Your Eyes Only", the theme for the James Bond movie of the same name. Her music was largely pop with bits of soft rock and New Wave floating around, with a pretty ordinary image.Which obviously made her the perfect woman to collaborate with Prince. Prince produced her 1984 album A Private Heaven and predictably transformed her into another trying-too-hard-to-be-sexy siren. She did get two hit singles out of it, "Strut" and the Narmy "Sugar Walls", so it probably wasn't that bad of a deal. Easton sang on two other Prince songs, "U Got the Look" and "The Arms of Orion", and collaborated with him some more on The Lover in Me before parting ways with him.As a bit of trivia, she has contributed twice to Phineas and Ferb, guest starring and singing (in a duet with Dr. Doofenschmirtz) "Happy Evil Love Song" in the episode "Chez Platypus" and singing "When Will He Call Me?" in "Backyard Aquarium". Which means that she has the distinction of being the second artist on this list both to have had a career before Prince and to have been on a children's television show.Discography:
He works from 9 'til 5 and then
He takes another home again
To find me waiting for him."
He works from 9 'til 5 and then
He takes another home again
To find me waiting for him."
—Sheena Easton, "Morning Train (9 to 5)"
- Take My Time (1980)
- You Could Have Been with Me (1981)
- Madness, Money & Music (1982)
- Best Kept Secret (1983)
- A Private Heaven (1984)
- Todo Me Recuerda a Ti (1984) - Spanish language release
- Do You (1985)
- No Sound But a Heart (1987)
- The Lover in Me (1988)
- What Comes Naturally (1991)
- No Strings (1993)
- My Cherie (1995)
- Freedom (1997)
- Home (1999)
- Fabulous (2000)
Sheena Easton provides examples of:
- Moral Guardians: "Sugar Walls" is best known for being one of the songs listed on the PMRC's "Filthy Fifteen" list.
Madonna's album Like a Prayer. He also played the guitar solos on "Act of Contrition" and "Keep It Together".note Completely unrelated to this, former Revolution guitarist (and current one-half of Wendy & Lisa) Wendy Melvoin played guitar on the song "She's Not Me" from the album Hard Candy.
Kate Bush, and met her during the 1990 Nude Tour, discussing a collaboration. Bush sent him the song "Why Should I Love You?", asking for backing vocals. When she received it back, Prince had not only sung but also added his own sizeable instrumental overdubs. This baffled Bush and her engineer Del Palmer, who then spent two years working on and off on it to try and "turn it back into a Kate Bush song". It eventually came out on 1993's The Red Shoes.note Bush also made a cameo appearance on Emancipation, singing backing vocals on "My Computer", but good luck hearing her at all on that song.
Tevin CampbellCampbell contributed the song "Round and Round" to the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack and provided some additional vocals. Prince repaid him by writing and producing several songs on his 1993 album I'm Ready.
Candy DulferA Dutch smooth jazz saxophone player who has sporadically contributed to Prince's albums and has served as an on-and-off member of his backing bands. Prince contributed the song "Sunday Afternoon" to her album Sax-a-Go-Go.She's rather famous for the brutally Pun-Based Titles that masquerade as her album titles, such as Saxuality, Sax-a-Go-Go and Candy Store. Also, she's the daughter of Dutch saxophonist Hans Dulfer.
Elisa FiorilloA backing singer on the Batman, Graffiti Bridge and Diamonds and Pearls albums. Fiorillo had one album named I Am co-produced by Prince and Levi Seacer, Jr. in 1990.She also contributed a song to the soundtrack of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Mazarati were a funk/Minneapolis sound band formed by Prince and his bassist Brownmark, active between 1986-1989. Its members were:
- Casey Terry - vocals
- Jerome "Romeo" Cox - bass
- Craig "Screamer" Powell - guitar
- Tony Christian - guitar
- Mark Starr - keyboards
- Aaron Paul Keith - keyboards
- Kevin Patricks - drums (whenever it's not Mr. Linn LM-1...)
- Mazarati (1986)
- Mazarati 2 (1989)
Mazarati provides examples of:
- Prince - everything
- Eric Leeds - saxophone, flute
- Levi Seacer, Jr. - bass
- Matt "Dr." Fink - keyboards
- Sheila E. - drums
- 8 (1987)
- 16 (1987)
Madhouse provides examples of:
- Fake Band: In the few concerts they performed opening for Prince, Madhouse's musicians heavily disguised themselves with baggy clothes and sunglasses.
- Sampling: The only vocals on both albums are either samples from The Godfather or samples of Vanity simulating an orgasm.
- Shout-Out: 16 is subtitled "New Directions in Garage Music", in reference to "Directions in Music by Miles Davis" from one of his most important releases, Bitches Brew.
94 EastThe first "real" band Prince ever played in,note 94 East was a funk band that existed between 1975-1979. It was formed by Pepe Willie, the husband of Prince's cousin, and included Willie, Prince and André Cymone. Their stuff is hard to find and very likely isn't even worth looking for in the first place anyway.Their recordings were predictably reissued a couple of times after Prince hit the big time, and the most common of these is the Minneapolis Genius album. This is technically Prince's first professional album, but he ignores its existence entirely, considering that he had no input into its recording.
94 East provide examples of:
- Canon Discontinuity: From Prince's oeuvre. He's personally made sure of it.
Broke away completely
Wendy and Lisa
Wendy and Lisa
Is the water warm enough?
Shall we begin?
Is the water warm enough?
Shall we begin?
—Prince and the Revolution, "Computer Blue"
"Take a ride on the honeymoon express."Childhood friends Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, much like Sheila E. above, had musical families: Wendy's father Mike and Lisa's father Gary (not to be confused with Gary Coleman the actor) were highly in-demand session musicians, and Wendy's brother Jonathan also went on to become a musician and served as touring keyboardist for The Smashing Pumpkins... until he died of a heroin overdose.Lisa was the first to join The Revolution as a keyboardist in 1980, replacing Gayle Chapman. Once guitarist Dez Dickerson left in 1983, Lisa pulled the I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine card and got Wendy into the band as a guitarist.Wendy and Lisa (as they were always credited) were generally acknowledged by fans and critics as The Revolution's "secret weapon": their complex approach to melody and songwriting helped push Prince and the band to a whole different level musically, while their love of The Beatles was reflected in the Pop and Psychedelic Rock influences they added. Their backing vocals and contributions to Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day and Parade are held in very high regard. And their spoken introduction to "Computer Blue" (quoted above) has proven quite memorable, being referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000 and other places.Prince decided to repay their hard work by being a complete Jerk Ass towards them, turning each tour between 1984-1986 into a game of "How can I piss off Wendy and Lisa today?" (answer: giving Leeds Wendy's solos on "Purple Rain", expanding The Revolution with more musicians, antagonizing Wendy by bringing her twin sister Susannah in the band and getting romantically involved with her, etc). Prince's asshole behavior towards Wendy and Lisa in Purple Rain wasn't exactly acting. In fact, Prince's conflict with the two was one of the key intra-band conflicts that eventually led to Prince's disbanding of The Revolution in 1986.In response, Wendy and Lisa recorded their first self-titled album in 1987. They co-produced the album with Revolution drummer Bobby Z, called up contributions from family members (namely Wendy's sister Susannah, Lisa's brother David and father Gary), played various instruments, wrote and sang all the songs. The result was a quirky, low-budget pop album filled with memorable melodies and possessing an overall ethereal character. The album received positive reviews, made a bit of headway in the USA and climbed up to a moderate position up in the UK.For their follow-up album, Fruit at the Bottom, the two abandoned the low-key charms of their debut and tried to take a shot towards success, adding more synths and dance beats to their music. Unfortunately they came up short in the songwriting department, which was reflected in its sales: the USA pretty much ignored it completely, while the British again sent it up the charts.Wendy and Lisa next signed with Virgin Records and released a new album, Eroica, a much more eclectic alternative-rock oriented work that didn't sacrifice the group's trademark ethereal atmosphere or memorable melodies. It met with strong reviews and became their biggest success... in the UK, natch.The two took some time off from their solo career and found a second job out of soundtracks - they've since contributed soundtracks and incidental music for various films and TV shows such as Toys, Dangerous Minds, Heroes, Bionic Woman, Crossing Jordan, Something New and Nurse Jackie, the last of which they won an Emmy for. They also took up work as session musicians, appearing either together or alone on albums by Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Michael Penn, Liz Phair, Seal, Madonna and k.d. lang.They've also made two solo albums since, the Tchad Blake-produced Girl Bros. in 1998 and the entirely self-released White Flags of Winter Chimneys in 2008 (the latter's online release being similar to the ones for Radiohead's In Rainbows and Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV). No word yet on their sales in the UK.Discography:
—Wendy and Lisa, "Honeymoon Express"
- Wendy and Lisa (1987)
- Fruit at the Botton (1989)
- Eroica (1990)
- Girl Bros. (1998)
- White Flags of Winter Chimneys (2008)
Wendy and Lisa provide examples of:
- '80s Hair: They had this back in... well, the eighties. See for yourself.
- Fading into the Next Song: On the self-titled debut, "Everything But You" and "Light".
- Grief Song: "Jonathan" deals with the death of Wendy's brother Jonathan after an overdose during a tour with The Smashing Pumpkins (the same incident resulted in Jimmy Chamberlain being fired from that band.) This topic was also explored in Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel", and Prince's own "The Love We Make" (judging by the hints left in the liner notes).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: It was believed for a long time that they were this, and they were, in fact, childhood friends, but in a 2009 interview with Out magazine they revealed that they had a past romantic relationship with each other, so the "heterosexual" part now is void.
- Insistent Terminology: Their group name's either spelled "Wendy and Lisa" or "Wendy & Lisa". Nobody seems to agree on this, but the "&" seems to be the most widespread.
- Instrumentals: "White".
- In the Style of...: Given away right in the title of "Salt and Cherries (MC5)".
- Lighter and Softer: Fruit at the Bottom.
- Lyrical Dissonance: A common criticism of Fruit at the Bottom is that the dance beats clash badly with the lyrics.
- Pop-Star Composer
- Power Ballad: "Stay", "Song About".
- Rearrange the Song: "This Is the Life" was rearranged for the Dangerous Minds soundtrack.
- Something Blues: Played with a bit in the title "Blues Away".
- Start My Own
Matt "Doctor" Fink
Matt "Doctor" FinkMatt Fink was a member of The Revolution and the NPG, working with Prince between circa 1979-1991. He played keyboards and became known as "Dr. Fink" for always wearing surgical scrubs on stage. According to Fink, it was the only outlandish outfit that Prince felt looked good on him. According to somebody else, Fink initially wore a prison outfit but discovered during the joint Fire It Up tour in 1979 that one of Rick James' bandmates did that already, and "doctor's scrubs" was the first thing he could think of as a replacement.His first appearance on record was on "Head" from Dirty Mind, to which he contributed a noisy, atonal synthesizer solo.Fink is the longest-lasting original member of The Revolution, surviving the band's axing in 1986 and staying on until 1991, when he left along with last remaining Revolutionite Miko Weaver after the fractious Nude Tour.After he left the Prince camp, he built his own studio (named StarVu Studios), worked on some video-game soundtracks, created a sample library, put out a solo album named Ultrasound in 2001, and signed an exclusive management deal for Europe with the company Mozart & Friends. Presumably this will lead to his releases being actually distributed in Europe.
Dr. Fink provides examples of:
- Token White: Prince intentionally assembled the Revolution to be a multi-ethnic, multi-gender band like Sly and the Family Stone, and opted not to hire James Harris (later of The Time) because, while good, he did not contribute to the band's diversity. Fink was asked to audition instead and received the job, and while his talent and contribution to The Revolution is undeniable, the fact that he was a white keyboard player did represent a factor in him getting the job. He stopped being the Token White after Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin and Eric Leeds became members.