June 24, 2018, the second day of Arroyo Seco festival in Pasadena, CA, was kicked off by a set from Prince's band, The Revolution. The original Purple Rain lineup started with Prince back in 1983, and watching them play 35 years later felt like being transported right back to their prime. Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, BrownMark, Doctor Fink, and Bobby Z. rocked the stage and didn't miss a single note. Singer Stokley Williams joined the band for a series of numbers, and the crowd was completely captivated from the start.
Even though the late Prince wasn't up on that stage, it felt like he was. All it took was two words from Melvoin - "Dearly beloved" - to kick off their rendition of "Let's Go Crazy" and send chills down everyone's spines. From start to finish, the band blew the crowd away and did a phenomenal job at honoring their friend Prince.
Ranker employees Dom Kelly and Kat Manos were fortunate enough to sit down with guitarist Wendy Melvoin and bassist BrownMark to talk about The Revolution, what it was like to play with Prince, and how it feels "bittersweet" to perform those songs on stage without their fearless leader. We asked Melvoin and BrownMark, "What should the world know about Prince?" Here's what they told us.
The Revolution is currently on tour! Check out all their upcoming dates here!
"He was amazing at picking the right ingredients for the soup," Melvoin said. "We just happened to be the magic combination."
When Prince put together this iconic lineup of the band in 1983, Melvoin says she was the last piece of the puzzle. The others had already been playing with Prince for a couple years when Melvoin, then only 19, was handpicked to jump on guitar.
"From the time I got in, you could tell he was building something," BrownMark, who joined in 1981, revealed. "I couldn't put my finger on it, but you could tell he knew what he was doing."
Melvoin says it was as much about personality as it was musicianship.
"Personality and chemistry."
It's easy to assume that Prince, seemingly a walking rock-star stereotype, would take control of every aspect of the band, but his bandmates say they never felt excluded in any way.
"It became less of a dictatorial situation and was more cohesive," BrownMark said. "Now it was more, 'What do you guys think?'"
"We all took our jobs really seriously," said Melvoin. "It was really collaborative. I think at that time he was looking for that kind of input."
Not only did Prince want to form a solid, cohesive band, but according to BrownMark, he wanted his own version of another legendary rock group.
"I think he wanted to form his own Fleetwood Mac."
Prince and The Revolution's Purple Rain is one of the biggest records of all time, and going into the studio sessions, every single person involved knew they were doing something special.
"We immediately knew it would be massive," said Melvoin. "Not because I'm a psychic. I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. I come from a musical background. My father was a studio guy. I was around people who were making these records as a kid, so you got used to knowing what things were going to last and what wasn't."
"I knew the stuff Prince was writing and the stuff that we did together was that," she continued. "Everyone that was around - the management, the label - no one had one foot in and one foot out."
While they all knew the record was something special, not everyone liked the movie.
"The movie I thought was going to flop," BrownMark revealed. "I thought the movie sucked. I never liked it. To this day I don't like it."
Still, the Purple Rain movie went on to gross over $80 million worldwide and even landed Prince an Academy Award.
At the height of the band's success, everyone started to feel like they were in a fishbowl.
"When you're that big you become isolated," Melvoin said. "It creates a fishbowl effect."
"We all knew that it was really huge to a lot of people, that is was really important," she continued, noting what they saw when they were able to step outside of that isolated world. "But as we were doing it, we were so disciplined. We were like six heart surgeons. You can't look up from the patient when you're performing surgery. That's what the band was like. The patient was the music."