Members of The Revolution were compelled to put their feet in the water and see whether or not they could find some kind of place for their grief to land.
That’s the description of guitarist and Revolution member Wendy Melvoin gave when explaining the depth of the pain experienced by the loss of pop icon Prince, who died one year ago on April 21 at his famed Paisley Park estate near Minneapolis.
“A real, profound sense of shared grief,” Melvoin told Billboard magazine, noting that’s what led Prince’s former band to reunite for a tour this spring after paying tribute to their late boss last year at Minneapolis’ First Avenue.
The tour kicks off April 21 at Paisley Park.
“We’re going to take it to different areas and see if we can let the fans have a place to kind of taste a little bit of him,” she said. “We’re not attempting to try to go out there and replace him or mimic or anything. We’re just gonna go out there and see if we can give taste of what was, and hopefully the fans are gonna go ‘Thanks,’ and it’ll help us, too.”
The Revolution — with keyboardist Matt Fink and drummer Bobby Z — backed Prince from 1979 through 1987’s “Sign O’ The Times,” though it wasn’t credited under that name until 1984’s “Purple Rain” album.
Bassist Brown Mark, keyboardist Lisa Coleman and Melvoin, who joined for “Purple Rain,” round out the tour lineup, which will only play material from the Revolution era, including “a bunch of unreleased stuff that the fans know,” Melvoin said.
“To me that era for him was such a culmination of everything he wanted to be,” she said. “He made no apologies and he wasn’t fighting as hard to prove himself. What we gave to him was his freedom, a true, safe environment to really explore every part of himself.
“None of us were the virtuosos that he had towards the end of his life who could play circles around any of us, like 5,000 notes in 10 seconds,” Melvoin said. “We were the musicians that would play one note and one note well. We became the freight train, which makes for a better band, and he could feel safe knowing we were happy to give him exactly what he wanted from each of us.”
Prince died suddenly of a reported accidental overdose of pain medication. Like that of pop superstar Michael Jackson seven years earlier, his death shook the music world and spurred signs of appreciation around the globe.
Fans flocked to Prince’s home, lighting candles, leaving flowers, notes and other gifts of remembrances.
The tributes poured in from various sources worldwide, as Atlanta turned its City Hall building purple after Prince’s death. The King and Queen towers in Dunwoody followed, as did New York’s Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the High Roller Ferris wheel in Las Vegas, the Chicago Skyline and Target Field in Minnesota.
Celebrities also paid homage.
“I want to be delicate to not disturb our Prince’s peace and eternal rest,” CeeLo Green wrote in an Instagram post. “I find myself being afraid now feeling alone in the world without him. … What I miss most is that medication with our master.
“His confidence in doing so is the evidence that his even greater talent was the ability to listen to the spirit and share shamelessly, unselfishly, and with so much style,” Green wrote. “He is now and forever immortalized as a noun, as I have often referred to him. Undoubtedly a person, a very special place, and absolutely everything.”
Just one week before his death, Prince performed his last concert at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, and the venue plans to honor The Purple One in a grand way for the one-year anniversary of his death, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
From 9 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 21, the Fox will post a rolling rotation of lyrics from Prince’s iconic song “Purple Rain” on its marquee.
One of the most gifted artists ever, Prince became a megastar in the 1980s during a period where Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen found their niche atop the music world.
However, Prince stood out not only for his singing and dancing, but he composed, produced and wrote just about all of his songs and played most of the instruments.
He released his first album, “For You,” in 1978 which included the hit “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” That was followed later by “Dirty Mind,” that included “Uptown” and “When You Were Mine.
1981’s “Controversy” delivered the hits “Do Me Baby” and the title track.
The artist finally broke through to a new level of stardom in 1982 with his double album, “1999,” which went platinum, bolstered by the title track and the Top 10 singles “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious.”
In 1984, Prince vaulted to superstardom with his signature album, “Purple Rain,” which was accompanied by the movie of the same name that featured The Time, Apollonia Kotero, and The Revolution.
The soundtrack spent 24 weeks atop the Billboard charts and sold more than 13 million copies in the United States alone. Among the unforgettable singles from the album, “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “I Would Die 4 U” and “Take Me With U.”
The movie earned Prince an Oscar for Best Original Score and his career continued to soar.
After his sudden death at the age of 57, Rolling Stone magazine reported a global outpouring of grief and disbelief, with many fans and collaborators sharing memories.
With the fate of his estate and unpublished music in doubt, many were left wondering how Prince’s legacy would continue.
His sister Tyka Nelson said in a statement that Paisley Park would be opened for public tours since it was “something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on.”
“Only a few hundred people have had the rare opportunity to tour the estate during his lifetime,” she said. “Now fans from around the world will be able to experience Prince’s world for the first time as we open the doors to this incredible place.”