The world was shaken in 2016 with the unexpected loss of the extraordinary musician and 20th century icon Prince. His death was felt deeply in the music world; however, one important piece of his legacy has endured – his original band The Revolution.
The band that backed Prince during his peak of popularity, and recorded albums like Purple Rain, 1999 and Around the World in a Day, will be at The Strand in Providence Sunday night.
I spoke with original keyboardist Matt Fink, better known by his stage name Dr. Fink, earlier this month. He was looking forward to getting back out on tour. “You’re gonna’ hear all the greatest hits from the Revolution era along with some deeper album cuts and some unreleased material as well. We try to stick to the original album arrangements and the original sounds, drums and synthesizer sounds. It (the show) sounds a lot like the records,’ Fink explained.
He shared further details about what to expect at the show. “We have a guest vocalist that does part of the show with us. His name is Stokely Williams from the Minneapolis band Mint Condition. Prince was very much in tune with Stokely and loved him as a performer, which is why we went to him and ask him to work with us on the tour.”
Fink shared some background on the band.
“We all grew up in different towns. Bobby Z and I grew up in Minneapolis along with Prince, Mark Brown grew up elsewhere and moved to the Twin Cities. Lisa (Coleman) and Wendy (Melvoid) grew up and in Los Angeles and both of their fathers were well known studio musicians (members of the famed Wrecking Crew). Prince wanted everybody to create their own identity within the group and that’s what we did.
“Of course, my stage name is Dr. Fink; I dress up in Doctor’s scrubs and that became my signature look. That was due to the fact that I was wearing something else on one of the early tours when we opened up for Rick James. Prince asked me to change my look because Rick James was wearing what I was wearing. So I had to switch over to a secondary idea, which was the doctor thing.”
Prince was an innovator with tremendous popular success. I wondered how he cultivated his iconic image.
“I think he was striving for mainstream popularity for sure. Having a mixed band of different races and genders was what he intended for us to become, like an R&B/Funk version of Fleetwood Mac. They were on Warner Brothers along with us and I know he took something from that – their look and everything – to create a band that was going to cross over so that we could break down some barriers. Michael Jackson did it first about a year before we really broke out with the 1999 album. MTV started playing a lot of Michael Jackson stuff and then a lot of Prince videos.
”At that time, radio for black artists was still a bit segregated across the US and you were only played on specific stations in various cities that were catering strictly to black music. Prince was very instrumental in breaking through some of that, along with Michael.”
The band brings a lot of energy and authenticity to the stage Check them out Sunday night at 9PM at The Strand. Tickets and further details here.