The members of Prince's most famous backing band The Revolution dreaded their leader's 3am phone calls.
The group was only in existence for three years, but recorded Prince's most famous albums and appeared as his band in the film Purple Rain. The bandmates regrouped after the music icon's death in April (16) and are now looking forward to headlining a tribute concert at their late leader's Paisley Park compound in Minnesota in the spring (Apr17).
In a new Billboard interview, drummer Bobby Z (Robert Rivkin), keyboardists Matt Fink and Lisa Coleman, bassist Brownmark (Mark Brown) and guitarist Wendy Melvoin recalled what it was like working with Prince, revealing he was a tough task master who expected the very best from his band - at all times.
Mark explains, "There were the phone calls at three in the morning. We'd be at home sleeping really good and all of a sudden... If you didn’t answer the phone, you were gonna get it the next day...
"He used to always call, though, sometimes at two, three in the morning. I would just miss it and hear it click, but I knew it was him. I would just know automatically. Nobody else would call me that late."
"I got such a phobia when the phone would ring past three in the morning," Melvoin adds. "I’d be like, 'Oh my God, I don’t wanna answer it', because it meant you'd have to be on a plane in three hours. Or he’d call you and say, 'What are you doing?', 'I’m sleeping'. 'Well I’m cutting (music), you’re missing (out)'."
Matt recalls, "Then he’d hang up on you!"
And Prince always insisted his band and crew members were drug-free, which made his passing - from an accidental painkiller overdose - heartbreaking for The Revolution stars.
"When I joined the band I smoked cigarettes and he was like, 'Uh-uh, not having it, you have to stop,' and I did," Melvoin recalls. "And when we were rehearsing for the Purple Rain tour, I think it was my guitar tech (who) was a cigarette smoker, and even though he didn’t smoke in the arena, he went to test Prince’s mic... and Prince could smell the cigarette on his microphone. That guy was fired immediately."
"But to say he was a drug addict and all that kind of stuff, it just p**sed me off," Mark adds. "He was hurting, he was in pain (from hip surgery), he was in pain. He made a couple of mistakes, like any of us... That man deserved a lot better than what he got, in my opinion. He just deserved so much better."