Why the Revolution Won’t Sing Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’
Prince’s backing band the Revolution are planning to ask the crowd to sing his signature track “Purple Rain” – because they don’t believe it would be right for any one vocalist to perform it in the place of their late leader.
Prince died in April last year, aged 57, of a painkiller overdose. He formed the Revolution in 1979 and they worked with him until 1986. Although invited to take part in his official memorial show last year, previous commitments made it impossible for them to appear. They staged their own concerts in Minneapolis in September and they’ll commence a reunion tour on April 21 – a year to the day since Prince died.
Guitarist Wendy Melvoin told Rolling Stone: “Since those shows, the band has been continually talking and trying to figure out, ‘Do we want to take this to a couple other places? Is there interest out there? Are we kidding ourselves? Is this like Sha Na Na getting back together?’”
“Then there was sort of this ‘A-ha!’ moment, when we were like, ‘The five of us are alive, we’re still playing, and we’re still a band. Let’s try and figure out a way to give a sense of what it meant to be in his band to these fans.’”
Asked who would front the shows, she replied: “No one’s going to be Prince. No one will ever be Prince and none of us in the band are going to try. The plan today – and it’s changeable – is we only perform songs that don’t distance us as the band. If we perform “Darling Nikki” none of us are going to sing it. We’re going to have someone come out and do it. Wherever we go there’s going to be an artist who loved him deeply, and they can come up and sing.”
Melvoin said that songs such as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Controversy,” which were “specifically geared around a band” would be delivered by the Revolution as a unit. She added: “There’s a massive catalogue of what we can perform. Most of it is big hits.
“People who are saying, ‘Who’s going to sing “Purple Rain”?’ Let’s break this down. Why doesn’t everybody in the audience sing it? We’ll play it, we’ll put a couple microphones out there – and you sing it! That song is bigger than any of us now. Everybody sing it.”
Insisting that the aim of the tour was to share an experience with fans, and also to have fun, Melvoin continued: “There are going to be haters. I don’t really care. It’s not about that. You still want to come? It’s up to you.”