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Prince Rogers Nelson, 7 June 1958, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. A prodigiously talented singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Prince was named after the Prince Roger Trio, of whom his father, pianist John Nelson, was a member.

After running away from his mother and stepfather he briefly joined up with John, who bought him his first guitar. He was later adopted by the Andersons, and became a close friend of Andre Anderson (later Andre Cymone). Prince was already conversant with piano and guitar and had written his own material from an early age. Together with Anderson he joined the latter's cousin, Charles Smith, in a junior high school band titled Grand Central. As Prince progressed to high school, Grand Central became Champagne, and he introduced original material into his sets for the first time. His musical development continued with the emergence of "Uptown", a musical underground scene that included Flyte Time, as well as other important influences including Jellybean Johnson, Terry Lewis and Alexander O'Neal. Prince's first demos were recorded in 1976 Debuting with Prince For You, Prince sent shock waves through his new sponsors, Warner Bros., by spending double his entire advance on the production of a single album. It sold moderately (USA number 163), with the single "Soft And Wet" making a big impact in the R&B charts. By 1979 Prince had put together a firm band (his debut had been recorded almost exclusively by himself). This featured Cymone (bass), Gayle Chapman and Matt Fink (both keyboards), Bobby Z (drummer) and Dez Dickerson (guitar). A succession of live dates promoting the new album Dirty Mind saw Lisa Coleman replacing Chapman. The album was the first fully to embody Prince's sexual allure, and the phallic exhortations on his Fender Telecaster and explicit material such as "Head" appalled and enticed in equal proportions. Artists such as Rick James, whom Prince supported in 1980, were among those who mistrusted Prince's open, androgynous sexuality. Returning to Minneapolis after an aborted UK tour, Cymone departed for a solo career while former members of Flyte Time and others released a self-titled album under the band name the Time. It transpired later that their songs had been written by Prince, who was the motivation behind the entire project.

Prince was nothing if not prolific, and both Controversy and 1999 followed within 12 months. Controversy attempted to provide a rationale for the sexual machinations that dominated Dirty Mind, falling unhappily between the two stools of instinct and intellect. The promotional tour featured a special revue troupe: Prince And The Revolution headlined above the Time and Vanity 6 (an all-girl Prince creation). The single "Little Red Corvette" was lifted from the album and was the first to gain significant airplay on MTV. The song was almost entirely constructed for this purpose, using a strong "white" metaphor as leverage. After internal disputes with the Time, Prince began work on the Purple Rain film, a glamorized autobiographical piece in which he would star. The potent social commentary of "When Doves Cry" was lifted from the soundtrack and became the first Prince song to grace the top of the US charts. "Let's Go Crazy" and "Purple Rain" (numbers 1 and 2, respectively) further established him as a figurehead for the 80s. The latter saw him turn his hand to Jimi Hendrix pyrotechnics and textures in the song. After the end of a huge and successful tour, Prince returned to the studio for a duet with Apollonia.

He also found time to revitalize the career of Scottish pop singer Sheena Easton by composing her US Top 10 effort "Sugar Walls". When Around The World In A Day emerged in 1985 it topped the US charts for a three-week run. He founded the studio/label/complex Paisley Park in central Minneapolis, which would become the luxurious base for his future operations. As work began on a second movie, Under The Cherry Moon, "Kiss" was released to become his third US number 1. Held one place beneath it was the Bangles' "Manic Monday", written by Prince under one of his numerous pseudonyms, in this case, Christopher.

He quickly overturned his decision not to perform live, and set out on the Parade tour to promote the number 1 album of the same name. The shows, however, were spectacular even by Prince standards, but his backing band the Revolution were nevertheless disbanded at the end of the tour. In 1987 Prince instituted a new line-up for the latest live engagements. While retaining the backbone of the Revolution (Fink, Leeds, Brooks and Safford) he added Sheila E, Marco Weaver, and Seacer. "Sign "O' The Times", the title track, was a hard-hitting testimony to urban dystopia, drug-related violence and human folly. However, The Black Album was recalled by Prince before it reached the shops. Combining primal funk slices with sadistic overtones, Prince's decision to suspend it ensured that it would become the 80s' most coveted bootleg. The mythology surrounding its non-release has it that The Black Album was the work of Prince's "dark" side - "Spooky Electric". This was given credence by the subsequent Lovesexy, apparently the result of the pre-eminence of "Camille' - Prince"s "good" side. Playing both albums side by side certainly reveals a sharp dichotomy of approach.

His next tour, meanwhile, saw the inclusion of a huge Pink Cadillac as a mobile part of the set. Exhausted musicians testified to the difficulty of backing their leader, rushing from orchestrated stadium performances to private club dates where entire sets would be improvised, all of which Prince, naturally, took in his stride. The following year was dominated by the soundtrack album for the year's biggest movie, Batman. If the album was not his greatest artistic success, it proved a commercial smash, topping the US charts for six weeks. He had also written and produced an album for singer Mavis Staples. In February 1990 Sinad O'Connor recorded a version of Prince's composition "Nothing Compares 2 U", which topped both the US and UK charts. In September 1990, he released Graffiti Bridge, which accompanied a movie release of the same title. The album was composed entirely of Prince compositions of which he sang just over half.

His new band, The New Power Generation, featured Tony M (rapper), Rosie Gaines (vocals), Michael Bland (drums), Levi Seacer (guitar), Kirk Johnson (guitar), Sonny T (bass) and Tommy Barbarella (keyboards). They were in place in time for the sessions for Diamonds And Pearls, a comparatively deliberate and studied body of work. The album was released in October 1991. Greeted by most critics as a return to form, the New Power Generation were considered his most able and vibrant collaborators since the mid-80s. In June 1993, he legally changed his name to the cryptic "symbol" for androgeny. Much of the attention subsequently surrounding the artist concerned his protracted battle against his record company, Warner Brothers. His behaviour became increasingly erratic - speaking only through envoys, he appeared at the 1995 BRIT Awards ceremony with the word "slave" written across his forehead as a protest. In October he abandoned the symbol moniker and from that point was known as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince".

In 1995, he released The Gold Experience, a return to the raunchy funk of his 80s prime in tracks such as "Pussy Control" and "I Hate You". It also included the smoothly accessible "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World", his bestselling single for many years. Following the release of Chaos And Disorder in July 1996, he sacked the New Power Generation and announced that he would not be touring, preferring to spend more time with his wife and new baby (who tragically died months after birth). He celebrated his release from the Warner Brothers contract with the sprawling Emancipation. Another 4-CD set, Crystal Ball, was initially sold over the Internet before being released to distributors. The first three CDs compiled previously unreleased tracks, while the all-acoustic fourth CD, The Truth, featured 12 strong new songs recorded the previous year. In May 2000, Prince announced he had reverted back to using his original birthname. Sighs of relief echoed around the world..

Rhonda Smith
Having been introduced to the bass by her older brother, Rhonda was learning bass licks from the recordings of her childhood idols, Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke at an early age.

A native of Montreal, Rhonda established herself as a first-call session player and toured with several successful French Canadian pop artists including Claude Dubois. She received Canada's prestigious Juno Award in 1995 for her performance on the best contemporary jazz album (The Merlin Factor/Amplitude).

For the past several years Rhonda has received major exposure in the U.S. and Europe as the bassist and background vocalist for The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. She has recorded five albums with him including the double platinum Emancipation as well as his most recent release, Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic. She also appears on the latest release from Chaka Khan.
John Blackwell
Born in Columbia, South Carolina to John Keneth Blackwell Sr. and Mamie S. Blackwell. John Sr. played drums professionally with acts like Cornelious Crawford, The Drifters, The Spinners, Mary Wells and many others.

At age three John Jr. gets his first drumset, a record player and all his fathers old records for christmas from his father John Sr. John played every weekend in Columbia and all around the Carolinas with local professional R&B, Jazz Fusion Group Robert Newton & Lotusfete at ages 15-17. Of course also in his High School Jazz and Marching Band. He played for Billy Eckstine at age 17 for his first professional gig. John attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. During college, John and friend keyboardist Jethro De Silva audition for gospel act Bebe & Cece Winans. Jethro and John make it to the finals but did not get the gig.

After Berklee, John landed the drum chair with the funk of funk groups - CAMEO. John stayed with the group for three years. He moved to LA and only stays for three days after landing the drum chair with Patti Labelle.

John meets Prince and Larry Graham at a Patti Labelle concert and starts travelling to Minneapolis on a regular basis, finanlly joining Prince and The New Power Generation.

One of the best-selling instrumentalists of the late '80s to mid-'90s, Najee has been a consistent favorite in the quiet storm and so-called "smooth jazz" markets. Often compared to Kenny G, George Howard, and Dave Koz, the New Yorker has been greatly influenced by Grover Washington Jr. Heavily produced and quite formulaic, Najee's albums have tended to avoid improvisation and strive for commercial radio airplay above all else. Debuting in 1987 with Najee's Theme, Najee was an immediate hit in the new adult contemporary (NAC) market. Similiar pop/urban jazz dates like 1988's Day By Day and 1990's Tokyo Blue did nothing to jeopardize his niche on smooth jazz radio. On stage, Najee takes some risks and stretches out more in fact, he has been quoted as saying he'd like to record a straight-ahead jazz or hard bop album eventually. But financially, Najee has had little incentive to pursue such a project. Morning Tenderness was released in 1998.
Renato Neto
Keyboardist - Has played with Sheila E, Marco Mendoza, Steve Wonder, Gilberto Gil, Roberto Carlos and Oleta Adams.

Maceo Parker
Raised in Kinston, North Carolina, Maceo was born into a musical family: both his parents played gospel music in their church. But his uncle, who headed local band the Blue Notes, was his first musical mentor. At age 8 Maceo picked up the saxophone, and his brothers Melvin (7) and Kellis (9) chose drums and trombone respectively. The three Parker brothers formed the Junior Blue Notes.
Candy Dulfer
Born September 19th 1969 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Candy Dulfer is six years old when she starts playing the saxophone. Her father Hans Dulfer, a renowned jazz saxophone player. While being on tour, her band Funky Stuff is scheduled to perform as a support act for another megastar, Prince. At the last minute, Prince cancels the support act for his three shows in The Netherlands. Candy is furious. She writes Prince a note saying that he missed an excellent chance to see a girl 'play her ass off' on the saxophone. Two days later, Prince apologizes and invites her to join him on stage for an impromptu blues. Candy brings the house down. His Royal Badness is very impressed and asks her to work on some more projects with him in the States. There, Candy records saxophone parts for The Time, Jil Jones, Patti LaBelle and, of course, Prince - contributing to his soundtrack album Graffiti Bridge. She even plays a prominent role in the video of his hit single "Partyman" and performs with Prince on Saturday Night Live.