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Thread started 07/02/17 7:43pm

purplethunder3
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New Power Generation Boosts Prince's Multi-Million Music Machine

New Power Generation Boosts Prince's Multi-Million Music Machine

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Mark Beech ,

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S

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Andre Cymone sings with New Power Generation (Derrel Todd/Paisley Park Studios via Getty Images)

The multi-million-dollar ...d groups. The New Power Generation has just kicked off a European tour with a performance of the star’s hits at the British Summer Time festival in London.

The NPG was Prince’s backing band through the 1990s and 2000s, both live and in the studio. Its 2017 setlist includes songs which the NPG’s members recorded with the star as well as other numbers that they performed on his tours. Separately, Prince’s music is being boosted by his band The Revolution, which is also touring after backing him in the 1980s, including the Purple Rain era.

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Prince, who died suddenly of an overdose on April 21 2016, aged 57, entered the Forbes List of Highest-Pa...elebrities at No. 5 in October last year. At the time of his death, he was grossing nearly $2 million for each live show and sold more than 2.5 million albums in the course of 12 months - more than any other deceased musician.

The NPG went through many personnel changes down the years, most famously working on the Diamonds and Pearlsalbum in 1991 and the following year’s Love Symbol Album. Some records followed that were credited to the New Power Generation; many Prince albums featured contributions from them. The collaborations continued right up to 2013 for shows before his 3RDEYEGIRL project and even on Hit N Run Phase Two in 2015, his last studio album before his death.

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Three of the current NPG line-up speak in an interview backstage at the BST event in Hyde Park, starting with their memories of his tragic death. NPG musical director Morris Hayes, who first met Prince in the late 1980s, says: “I had been working all night on a film piece. I had left my phone in another room and I could hear it – I had hundreds of messages. I was inconsolable.” After media reports about Prince’s health, days before Hayes had spoken to Prince’s former manager: “I said ‘somebody needs to get a handle on it.’ For me, it was particularly rough because I knew something was not right and I did not physically go myself and do something about it.”

Keyboardist Tommy Barbarella remembers hearing about Prince’s death in the gym and leaving to meet other people who had worked with him: “You didn’t want to be alone, just people who felt like you did.”

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They are joined by André Cymone. He recalls that he was watching a movie at home when TMZ arrived outside his house and broke the news to him.

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The three all remember Prince as genius – and a prankster. He would put in crazy calls to their hotel rooms and pretend to be room service until they would swear, when he would crack up laughing. Some of these pranks ended up on the 12-inch version of “Cream.” “We were just like kids… out of junior high… prank calling people,” they chime in. Hayes adds: “Prince was a fun loving guy but when it came to get down to music he was a task master. Catch him on the wrong day, and you would catch a case and make you want to quit.”

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NPG members played at the Minneapolis Prince Tribute last October and said that the positive reaction encouraged them to do more. Fans wanted to get closure, says Hayes. “We are not trying to memorialize him but celebrate this brother who did so much for music.” They had worked closely on the songs: “It’s not like we are imitating - we are NPG.

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As for the vocals, Hayes is sure. “We did not want to replace Prince or get a Prince-like person. I am not touching that with a ten-foot pole. We are all individuals and we use the talents that we have and people who have benefitted from his nurturing. André was in his first band starting out.”

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Cymone handles vocals with Kip Blackshire and the band would be happy to work with other celebrities who have worked with Prince.

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Several hours after this interview, the NPG takes to the Barclaycard Stage at BST, with 60,000 people in the arena. The NPG keeps its promise to reprise tracks “spanning the length of Prince’s career.” There are so many hits that the band has no trouble playing its allotted two full sets. They tear through “Sexy MF,” “Pop Life” and just about everything from “Cream” to “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain.”

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Hayes, 54, recalls that, with so much on offer, Prince used a teleprompter as a backup to help him remember the lyrics: “How many hits have you got? There are too many songs to remember, Morris!”

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Hayes notes “so we have an endless well and there are many songs that haven’t even come out.” He remains hopeful that more of the vault will be released. “One of the last things I worked on was called ‘Welcome To America’ which he let me co-produce. He was very impatient and he liked everything to be, chop chop. I liked to find a sound. Here I was able to take the CD demo home and I brought it back. He was so complimentary and loved everything. It was a cool experience for me and I had a lot of fun doing it. That record is still in the can.”

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The NPG plans to go into the studio too to record a single or more, as well as performing more shows in the fall. Current dates to follow include the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on July 6.

British Summer Time runs over two weekends each year in Hyde Park, London. The first weekend was headlined by Phil Collins, Green Day and Justin Bieber. The second weekend’s headliners are Kings of Leon (July 6), The Killers (July 8) and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (July 9).

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Mark Beech

NPG starts tour in London

I'm the author of books including All You Need is Rock, collecting my rock criticism for Bloomberg. I'm now editor of Dante magazine and write for ArtInfo and Forbes.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #1 posted 07/03/17 5:38am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the matter with your world
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #2 posted 07/17/17 10:45am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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Didn't Prince wear this shirt during the Welcome 2 tours?

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the matter with your world
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
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