Thursday, November 24, 2016

From The BLUE HILLS To STANDING ROCK - 12/17 Benefit Concert in Boston

ROXBURY, MA - "From The BLUE HILLS To STANDING ROCK" is a benefit concert in support of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, featuring an internationally acclaimed bill of traditional, soul, funk, jazz and world-music indigenous performers.On December 17th at 7:30 pm in Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street in Roxbury. The donation is $15 and advanced tickets are available on eventbrite: (

Confirmed performers include: Mixashawn Rozie, Terry Orlando Jones, Phillip Aaron, In Divine Company, Bojah & The Insurrection, AREA Twenty-Two, Robert Peters, The GroovaLottos, and more! This concert is being organized by Song Keepers, Ltd in conjunction with several other community organizations, in support of the Water Protectors trying to prevent the North Dakota pipeline from passing through the reservation water supply which violates a 170 year-old treaty between the USA and the tribe.

Song Keepers, Ltd (SKL) is a non-profit, professional arts and education organization, dedicated to the preservation and continuation of traditional and contemporary Native American music; as well as community engagement and social and economic development. SKL was formed by a collective of Native American musicians and singers out of a recognized need for social and educational activities in the community. We do this by developing and supporting community based educational programs and presentations of music and the performing arts, by and about First Nations people. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

DRINK ALERT: "GroovaLottos Summer Blues Chaser"

During our 2016 summer concert season, we actually had a drink named for us!!!

Want a drink with a kick? A little something outside of our usual alcohol- free realm, but we know our fans are responsible folks. We also have a non-alcohol version of the "GroovaLottos Summer Blues Chaser".

GroovaLottos Summer Blues Chaser

  • 1.5 Parts Mount Gay or Myer's Rum
  • 0.5 Part Coconut Milk
  • 1 Part Blue Curacao
  • 1 Part Pineapple Juice
  • Dash of sugar

Shaken and poured over ice.

Add lime and lime juice.

*FOR ALCOHOL FREE, use White Grape Juice instead of Rum and Curacao with blue food coloring or blue Kool-aid for coloring.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Good Bye To Funk Pioneer Bernie Worrell

AP - Bernie Worrell, (1944 - 2016) the Jersey native who revolutionized keyboard playing in popular music, died Friday, June 24, from the effects of lung cancer, his wife Judie Worrell announced on FacebookHe was 72.

Worrell’s music tapped into the heart and lifted the spirit. There was a universal melody, whimsy, soul and passion in his work, and to see him in concert was to experience it all.

Worrell had worked with the Talking Heads, Bill Laswell, Keith Richards, the Pretenders, Jack Bruce, Deee-Lite and many others, but is perhaps best known as the keyboard maestro of Parliament-Funkadelic, most prominently on tracks like “Flash Light,” “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” and “Aqua Boogie.”

“He was a phenom at 14-years old, he was a phenomenal kid, he could play the organ already — (akin to organ greats) Jimmy Smith and (Jack) McDuff — he could do that stuff when he was 15, 16-years old,” said Parliament-Funkadelic frontman George Clinton previously to the Asbury Park Press. “We took our funk and rock ‘n’ roll and put Bernie’s chops in it and we had something nobody knew what the hell we were doing.”
There wasn’t anything like the music of Parliement Funkdelic and there hasn’t been anything like it since. A multi-color melange that included rock, soul, gospel, classical, psychedelic and folk that will forever be known as the zenith of funk music.  It was at once farcical and fanciful, but it was also a pointed commentary of the turbulent nature of the times. You could take it either way, and that was part of its genius.
Worrell’s Mini Moog synthesizer made the band unique, to say the least.

“We were just funking around for fun, we were glad to be on the road playing and when we weren’t on the road, we were in the studio making all those albums that are out there now,” Worrell said previously to the Asbury Park Press. “We were just creating, and thank God for that. At least for myself, we weren’t thinking about making hits, we didn’t go into the studio to make a hit. Who knows what’s going to be a hit in the first place? So it’s just happened we were blessed.”

Worrell was born in Long Branch and he gave his first public performance at the city’s Star of the Sea Academy as a 4-year-old. He was given the key to the city by Long Branch Mayor  Adam Schneider during a 2012 performance at the Brighton Bar.

After the Worrells moved to Plainfield, Bernie’s talent was soon apparent to Clinton.
“Bernie was from Plainfield, like the rest of us, and in his youth we heard about him constantly, from almost everyone: how he was a local Mozart who wrote his first symphony before he was in junior high school, how he could do anything from Ray Charles to classical music,” wrote Clinton in his autobiography, “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir.” “With Bernie we could paint more colors, mix together soul and rock and even a little bit of gospel.”

Post P-Funk, the Worrells lived in Hampton, where they created the annual Local and Legend Music Festival to benefit young musicians from the area with music scholarships.
“We’re providing a way for (area musicians) to play original stuff,” said Bernie Worrell to the Asbury Park Press. “It’s an extension of themselves. Play it and let the people hear them.”
A benefit for the ailing Worrell April in New York City drew a wide array of stars, from actress Meryl Streep to Clinton and Bootsy Collins.

All the stars who appeared stage expressed strong affection for the keyboardist.
“Bernie made stardust and he sprinkled us all with it,” said actress Meryl Streep on Monday. Streep appeared with Worrell in the movie “Ricki and the Flash.”

“Bernie changed my life,” said David Byrne. “The way I think about music and the way I think about life.”

“He doesn’t have to shine by himself, he wants others to shine,” said Bootsy Collins. “That’s a great gift to have.”

The performers included Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads; Sarah Dash of LaBelle; Fred Schneider of the B-52s; Living Colour; the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra; Marc Ribler; Rick Springfield; and Leo Nocentelli of the Funky Meters, who was joined by Questlove of the Roots and Jon Batiste of the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” house band.
Film director Jonathan Demme brought out a clips of the Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense.” He jokingly said that Byrne and Harrison wanted less Worrell in the film because he was too cool.

Worrell also performed at the show. He joined Nocentelli and guitarist Buckethead for an instrumental, and later came out on stage to join Collins and George Clinton. Collins gave Worrell a melodica wrapped up as a gift, and Worrell broke it out and started sweetly playing the Collins song, “I’d Rather Be with You.”

A long jam on the Parliament Funkadelic classic “Flash Light” followed.
“It’s about us,” said Worrell, as he motioned toward the audience. “I’m just a channel who was given a gift, just like all of us.”

UPDATE: Shows for The GroovaLottos in July and August 2016

Farewell and R.I.P. To Native American Blues Legend Jim Boyd

Jim Boyd Performing at the NAMA Ceremony
Singer, songwriter, musician and producer Jim Boyd reportedly died due to natural causes on June 21, 2016. He was 60 years old. As one of the most active Native American recording artists, Jim Boyd’s music career spanned over four decades in the roles as; musician, performer, songwriter, and producer. He has worked on projects for Miramax, Warner Brothers, Mega International Records, Dixie Frog Records, Sound of America Records, as well as produced audio-visual projects for businesses and colleges. Jim has released 15 records to date;  Reservation Bound, Unity, Reservation Blues, First Come Last Served, AlterNatives, Jim Boyd w/ Alfonso Kolb Live At The Met, Kyo-t Live, Going To The Stick Games, Them Old Guitars, Live At Two Rivers, Blues To Bluegrass, Voices From The Lakes, Harley High, Living For The Sunny Days, and most recently Bridge Creek Road​.  Jim also managed his own career and continued to perform as the business owner and operator of his label, Thunderwolf Records.
Jim has received multiple nominations and awards for his work from the Native American Music Awards over the years. At the Second Annual Native American Music Awards, he took home the award for Best Compilation Recording for the Smoke Signals soundtrack; at the Fifth Annual Awards, he won Record of the Year for his recording, AlterNatives. The next year he took Best Pop/Rock Recording for Live At The Met; at the Seventh Annual Awards he received Record of the Year for Going To The Stick Games; he received Songwriter of the Year at the Eighth Annual Native American Music Awards for Them Old Guitars; he won Best Short Form Music Video for Inchelium at the Ninth Annual Awards; and he received the prestigious Artist of the Year Award at the Tenth Annual Native American Music Awards.

Jim first started playing gigs in junior high in his older brother’s band, The Benzi Kriks, around Sewart Air Force  Base in Tennessee. In 1968, the family moved back to the Colville reservation where Jim continued to play gigs with his lifelong friend Jerry Stensgar, who played bass.  He started playing cover music in bars by the age of sixteen.

At the age of 23, Jim was recruited as a guitar player in the group XIT, which was one of the first rock groups in Indian country to have success.  Boyd played for two years with XIT.  Boyd also appeared in the documentary, XIT: Without Reservation, which was a live recording filmed at the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Boyd and XIT bass player, Frank Diaz, started a cover group called Greywolf with drummer, Ed Banning. This group continued in many forms throughout the next fifteen years, and eventually added drummer Alfonso Kolb, who continued to play with Jim afterward. After Diaz’s departure, Jerry Stensgar joined as bass player until Greywolf officially disbanded.

With intentions to become a recording engineer instead of a songwriter, Jim attended the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio in the early 80's.  He didn't start writing his own songs until the age of thirty, penning lyrics about Native American issues placed to contemporary music. He met Sherman Alexie at the Columbia Folk Festival in Spokane when Alexie was preparing his first movie, Smoke Signals on Miramax. He asked Boyd to write songs for the soundtrack. The first song Jim wrote, "Father and Farther," became the movie's central theme. "Music is Jim's voice," Alexie had said. "With his music, he is more courageous, more passionate, more extroverted. He is a gentleman, tender and funny in his private life, and brash and courageous on his public stage. I love them both."

Jim had four songs featured in the Miramax motion picture Smoke Signals, which were also included on the TVT Records soundtrack. He also recorded music for Warner Bros. books on tape, Indian Killer. Not all of Jim’s songs dealt with Native American issues or Native American genres for that matter. His songs ranged from folk to country, rock and blues all while balancing his commercial and artistic sides. A music magazine said he was "a mix of folk, rock, blues, thoughtful lyrics with great guitar riffs and strong vocals".

At the time of Jim’s death, he was serving his second term on the Colville Business Council as Chairman and was standing for reelection.  He was previously the Culture Committee Chairman, Vice-Chairman of the Business Council, and Chairman of the Law & Justice Committee.

In addition to his wife Shelly, Jim Boyd is survived by his mother, Violet Boyd; brothers Lanny and Michael; sisters Pam, Luana and LaDonna; sons Joel, Dakota, Brian and Michael Carson, and daughter Stevey Seymour; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

As we mourn the loss of Jim Boyd with his family, we will also celebrate the many amazing songs and recordings he has left us and the world. And wherever you may be, remember to bring out your guitars, your hand drums, your big drums, your flutes, your voices and sing Jim on his way.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Legendary Singer Billy Paul Dead @ 81

This has been an awful year for music fans so far, and we are starting to feel like our website is becoming an obituary. Rest in Peace to legendary soul singer, Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) who passed away today (April 24, 2016) at the age of 81. Paul, a jazz singer, rose to stardom with a soul song that became his signature classic, "Me & Mrs Jones."

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Paul's love of music began at a young age listening at home to his family's collection of 78s. He recalled: "That's how I really got indoctrinated into music. My mother was always...collecting records and she would buy everything from Jazz at Philharmonic Hall to Nat King Cole." He began singing along and tried to emulate the records he heard: "I always liked Nat King Cole. I always wanted to go my own way, but I always favored other singers like Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald - I loved Ella Fitzgerald. There are so many of them. Nina Simone was one of my favorites - Johnny Mathis, They all had a style, a silkiness about them.... I wanted to sing silky, like butter – mellow. I wanted to sing mellow you know what I mean. One of my favorites is Jessie Velvet - they used to call him Mr. Easy. A lot of people forgot about him you know - Sam Cooke is another one of my favorites."[4]Paul began his singing career at age eleven, appearing on local radio station WPEN, then owned by the local Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper.[3] Paul attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music for formal vocal training. He recalled: "Well you know, it was something that my mum would say I needed Holding my notes you know, and delivering my notes. It gave me assurity, cos my mother was 100% behind me and it created the style and uniqueness of Billy Paul. All my life I wanted to sound like myself, I never wanted to sound like anybody else. How that occurred was cause I always wanted to be a saxophone player.... I took my uniqueness and treated it like a horn, which created a good style for me."[4]Paul explained why he was particularly influenced by female jazz singers: "I think the reason behind that is because of my high range. The male singers who had the same range I did, when I was growing up, didn't do much for me. But put on Nina Simone, Carmen McRae or Nancy Wilson, and I'd be in seventh heaven. Female vocalists just did more with their voices, and that's why I paid more attention to them."[3]Perhaps the female vocalist that had the most impact on Paul was Billie Holiday who he called "a BIG influence."[4] Paul began developing a vocal style that would eventually incorporate traces of jazz, R&B and pop.Paul's popularity grew and led to appearances in clubs and at college campuses nationally. This led to further opportunities, appearing in concert with Charlie Parker,Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Roberta Flack. He also changed his name from Paul Williams to Billy Paul so as to avoid any confusion with other artists such as saxophonist and songwriter Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams. He explained: "I had Jules Malvin, who was like my play father. He was my manager at the time. He took me up to the Apollo and I warmed the Apollo for six weeks and that’s where he gave me the name Billy Paul. I didn't question it."[4]Still a teenager, in 1952 he traveled to New York City and entered the recording studio for Jubilee Records. Backed by Tadd Dameron on piano and Jackie Davis on theHammond organ, the first single Paul released that April was "Why Am I" with "That's Why I Dream" as the B-side (Jubilee Records 5081, both written by Bernard Sacks and B. Sidney Zeff). Billboard reviewed the tracks favorably saying of "Why Am I" - "Expressive warbling of a moody ballad, by the label's new 16-year-old chanter" and of "That's Why I Dream" - "Organ and piano lend the singer a hand in this slow-paced etching of a romantic number.".A few months later in June 1952, Paul released his second single - this time collaborating with the Buddy Lucas Orchestra - "You Didn't Know" backed with "The Stars Are Mine" (Jubilee Records 5086). Billboard was again positive saying about "You Didn't Know" - "Billy Paul, new young singer, makes an impressive bow on the label with a strong performance of a weeper ballad which should pick up spins and plays. The Lucas ork furnishes okay backing. A good disk" and about "The Stars Are Mine" - "Paul sings this new tune more quietly, over a smooth ork reading. Side is not as exciting as flip and tune is not as strong." A few weeks later, Jubilee took out an ad in Billboard to promote their artists in anticipation of the annual NAMM Show - the music industry trade convention put on by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). Jubilee plugged Paul's latest single and noted: "He's New - He's Hot!" Despite Jubilee's efforts, none of the tracks by the young singer made the charts."I went in, in 1957, and I was stationed with Elvis Presley and Gary Crosby - Bing Crosby's son. We were in Germany and we said we're going to start a band, so we didn’t have to do any hard work in the service. We tried to get Elvis to join but he wanted to be a jeep driver. So me and Gary Crosby, we started it and called ourselves the Jazz Blues Symphony Band. Some famous people came out of that band; Cedar Walton, Eddie Harris and we toured all over Germany. Elvis didn’t wanna join us. I used to see him every day but he drove the jeep for the Colonel. He didn’t want to join our band. He wanted to get away from music for a while, while he was in the service you know.Paul's career took an unexpected turn when he was drafted into the Armed Services. He recalled:Paul and the other members of the 7th Army Band including Don Ellis, Leo Wright, and Ron Anthony used the service to further their musical careers as best they could—ones they knew would continue once they returned to civilian life. Paul said: "I sang in the service, I sang with a jazz band. So when I came out I sang Jazz, going to clubs and so forth."Paul also did some boxing in the Army - a sport he had grown up with as he explained in a 2012 interview: "Yeah we had a gym and all my friends from my neighborhood were boxers. Even during my army days I boxed as well as singing. Actually I still go to the gym; both me and my wife have trainers... Miles Davis would always say: 'Come to the gym! I'm gonna beat your ass!' Then one time I got hit too hard and I said no I'm going to sing!... That made my mind up."After his discharge, Paul formed a jazz trio with hard bop pianist Sam Dockery and bassist Buster Williams. In 1959 he joined the New Dawn record label and released the single "Ebony Woman" backed with "You'll Go to Hell" (New Dawn 1001) both written by Morris Bailey Jr. In 1960, Paul recorded "There's a Small Hotel" (Finch 1005, written by Rodgers and Hart) backed with "I’m Always A Brother" (Finch 1006, written by Leon Mitchell and Charles Gaston). None of these songs charted but Paul would resurrect and re-record both "Ebony Woman" and "There's a Small Hotel" in later years.Paul was a brief stand in for one of the ailing Blue Notes with Harold Melvin. Paul remembered: "Well, I didn’t want to dance so Harold Melvin fired me (laughs). I had a six month stay with The Flamingos - I was with The Flamingos for a while."[4] It was around this time that Paul established a lifelong friendship with Marvin Gaye—both singers filling in with other groups. Paul recalled: "I was one of the Blue Notes at one time and Marvin Gaye was in The Moonglows.... We were such good friends. We never did a record together and that would have been one of my dreams. And you know what one of my fascinations is? What we would be doing if he were here today. I think about Marvin every day. The love I have for this man is unbelievable. We were close, we were like brothers. When I would go on the road out in California, he would go round to the house - he and Blanche (Billy's wife) [would] make sure Blanche’s mother would take her insulin because she was a diabetic. I would heavily depend on him to make sure she ate and took her insulin. That’s how close we were. You know sometimes, even today. I wake up and hope it was a dream, but it’s real – it’s real you know."[4]"I always saw myself as a solo artist." -Billy Paul[4]In 2012, Paul was asked how important the city of Philadelphia is to him and what the Philly sound is: "It's very very important to me. I was born here and so many great and influential artists come from here as well. Its a city of its own and has its own sound. I think what makes it different is the drama; you know how they say everyone marches to their own beat? Well i think Philly has its own beat as well, and it's distinctive. It sounds easy, but it's hard to play."Paul and his wife and manager Blanche Williams were in the process of recording his debut album when they met Kenny Gamble. Paul recalled:Paul's debut album Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club was released in 1968 on the Gamble label. Largely a collection of jazz covers of songs popularized by others, it was a studio album that attempted to recreate the feel of Paul's live club performances. Neither the single "Bluesette" nor the album reached the charts."I was singing in a jazz club called the Sahara. He had a record shop on South St & Philly - right round the corner and I was singing with a trio at the Sahara club on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He came over and said 'I am starting a record company and I would like to sign you.' Low and behold I took all the material I sung every weekend and I did an album in three and a half hours - a whole album. I had this album, and I produced it - me and my wife. And we gave him this album called Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club to help start the record company and that was the album that helped start it up. I was singing totally Jazz then, but when I heard The Beatles and heard the gospel influence and everything I just said: 'I can make jazz with R&B.' That transition came when The Beatles came out to America. When I heard The Beatles that was my turning point. They were like my mentors. You know the funny thing about that, when I heard (Billy sings) 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand,' at first I said these guys are like a flash in the pan. But the second album when they started doing all this, I had to like take all that back. John Lennon - one of the greatest writers in the world."Paul's second LP Ebony Woman (1970), was a more commercial release on Gamble & Huff's Neptune label. Paul cut a new version of his 1959 single and made it the title track. Gamble & Huff were firmly in control of the production. Merging jazz and soul, the LP achieved some modest success reaching #12 on the Billboard soul chart and #183 on the pop chart.Going East (1971) was the first Billy Paul album released on the Philadelphia International Records label, making full use of the label's regular group of ace musicians MFSB atSigma Sound Studios. As they had done on the previous LP, Gamble & Huff sought to find the balance between Paul's jazz roots and the funky soul that they hoped would bring mainstream success. Paul nearly reached the charts with the single "Magic Carpet Ride" (a different song than the 1968 Steppenwolf hit) and the album climbed to #42 on the Billboard soul chart and #197 on the pop chart.With each album, Gamble & Huff were moving closer to realizing the sound they envisioned for Paul and with the 1972 LP 360 Degrees of Billy Paul and the single "Me and Mrs. Jones" they achieved it. Both the album and song received commercial and critical recognition. "Me and Mrs. Jones" was a No. 1 hit for the last three weeks of 1972, selling two million copies (platinum single status), and went on to win Paul a Grammy Award. The gold album and platinum single broke the artist on world charts, including the United Kingdom where the single entered the Top 20 of theUK Singles Chart reaching number 12 in early 1973. In the years since then, the song has been covered numerous times, most notably by Freddie Jackson in 1992 andMichael Bublé in 2007. Paul recalled the Grammy win and the song's overall success: "Oh man! I was up against Ray Charles, I was up against Curtis Mayfield, I was up against Isaac Hayes. I was in the Wilberforce University in Ohio, I had to go do a homecoming - my wife and her mother went. And when I see Ringo Starr call my name, I said Ohhh... Yeah... The most sobering thing is to have a number one record across the whole entire world in all languages. It’s a masterpiece, it’s a classic."The song was PIR's first No. 1. In addition, the label was enjoying considerable success with their other artists including the O'Jays and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Paul remembered the atmosphere at the label: "It was like a family full of music. It was like music round the clock, you know."But Paul's massive success was short lived. The follow-up single - "Am I Black Enough for You?" failed to reach the heights of "Mrs. Jones" with the song's Black Power political message proving too much for mainstream radio's taste. There was and continues to be much controversy surrounding the choice to release this track as the follow-up to a cross-over smash hit.In a 1977 interview, Paul made plain that he opposed the choice from the beginning:"I think though that a lot of mistakes were made at the time. The biggest one was releasing 'Am I Black Enough For You' straight after 'Mrs. Jones'. People weren't ready for that kind of a song after the pop success of 'Mrs. Jones'. They were looking for a sequel or at least something that wasn't provocative. You'll remember at the time that I told you I was 100% against it and history has proven me right. But though it was a company mistake, I'm still satisfied with both CBS and Philadelphia International."Decades later, Paul was more philosophical about the song: "That was what I had with 'Am I Black Enough.' I wanted - I'm gonna make it this time and come out. I think it's true to the audience, cos they look for something to come out compared to Mrs. Jones and that was Clive Davis' idea to do that. I think it was Kenny and Clive Davis, but I think it was mostly Clive Davis." For his part, Davis has said that he opposed releasing the song as a single. Still, Davis called it an "all time great record, all time great performance.". Gamble, the co-writer and producer of the track, said the song "was great and Billy sounded great doing it.". Paul reflected: "Well you know... For a long time I was angry about it, I had a bit of a letdown. Now the song is ahead of its time.[4] I feel as though I let the song down when I went into my darkness. I feel like I abandoned the song. And I'm still going to get to the bottom of 'Am I Black Enough.'""Me and Mrs. Jones" was such a huge hit that Gamble & Huff decided to re-release Paul's first two albums Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club and Ebony Woman. Reissued in 1973, both albums featured new cover art and were a boon to new fans hungry for Billy Paul product who had already purchased his first two PIR LPs. Still, neither reissue was terribly successful with only Ebony Woman re-entering the album charts at #186 Pop and #43 Soul.Ultimately, 360 Degrees of Billy Paul reached #1 on the Billboard soul chart and #17 on the pop chart. Despite the disappointment over the chart performance of the "Am I Black Enough" single, there was no reason to believe that Paul could not replicate the album's success or reach even greater heights. In May 1973, while still promoting the 360 Degrees of Billy Paul album, he was asked about a follow-up LP: "I'm afraid that there will be something of a delay. As of right now, there are two sides actually completed. I have to tell you about one of them — Kenny and Leon wrote it especially and it's a definite single at some point. It's called "I Was Married" and I honestly think it will be bigger than "Me and Mrs. Jones." But for me, there are still two singles from the 360 Degrees of Billy Paul|360 Degrees album — "Brown Baby" and "I'm Just A Prisoner", But, we are starting to work on the album more seriously from May 15." Despite Paul's enthusiasm, neither "Brown Baby" or "I'm Just A Prisoner" were released in U.S., although "Brown Baby" was issued in the U.K. but failed to chart there.Paul's next album War of the Gods was the follow-up to 360 Degrees of Billy Paul and was issued in November 1973. Unique in Paul's catalog, it contains lengthy psychedelic soul, song suites and marked a conceptual and musical advance for Paul that did not go unrecognized by critics and fans. And while the LP and its singles enjoyed some success, Paul was unable to repeat the kind of wide impact he had with his previous album and "Mrs. Jones". The War of the Gods single "Thanks for Saving My Life", backed with "I Was Married" as the B-side, was a top 40 hit reaching #37 on the pop chart and a top-ten soul record reaching #9. It also reached #33 in the UK.Paul's 1973 European tour with The O'Jays and The Intruders spawned Paul's first true live album: Live in Europe. Recorded in London and released in 1974, it reached #10 on the Billboard Soul Album chart and #187 on Pop chart.Got My Head on Straight was released in 1975 and was an attempt to return to the successful formula of 360 Degrees of Billy Paul. A collection of jazzy, soulful, funky, pop songs it reached #140 on the Billboard Pop Album chart and #20 on the Soul chart. It included the singles "Be Truthful to Me" (#37 R&B); "Billy's Back Home" (#52 R&B); and "July, July, July, July" which did not chart. Despite the attempted return to form, the lack of mainstream success was a major disappointment to Paul, Gamble & Huff, and everyone at PIRWhen Love is New followed in the same vein as its predecessor and had a similar fate. Released in December 1975, it reached #139 on the Billboard Pop Album chart and #17 on the Soul chart. It included the singles "Let's Make a Baby" which hit #83 on the Pop singles chart (the last record of Paul's to make that chart), #18 on the Soul chart, and #30 in the UK and "People Power" which reached #82 on the Soul chart and #14 on the U.S. Dance chart."This man suddenly discovered sexy recordings when several of our black recording artists began to stop performing for nothing at his annual Black Expos. Remember, this is the same Jackson who presented at one of his Black Expos the filthiest recording comedian in show business. And that comedian was filthy that night at the Amphitheater. It got so bad that parents and their children could be seen leaving the place."[14]"Let's Make a Baby" proved controversial and there were calls to ban or alter the track because of its supposed obscene or negative message. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH led the movement against this and other songs such as Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" and theFour Tops' "Catfish." The campaign was waged locally with individual stations making their own choices about how to handle the matter. For example, leading R&B station WWRL in New York City played "Let's Make a Baby" but decided not to announce its title.[13]Other stations went so far as to alter the lyrics. Privately, several black disc jockeys described the controversy as "Jessie's phony crusade against sex on the air." The disc jockeys - who refused to allow their names to be used for fear of reprisals - accused Jackson of being "absolutely dishonest" about the campaign with one popular radio personality making reference to Richard Pryor's 1975 appearance at one of Jackson's events:The disc jockeys further pointed out that Jackson was not critical of other artists like Roberta Flack and The Brothers Johnson who had similarly suggestive songs like "Jesse" and "Get the Funk Out of My Face" but who were supporters of Operation PUSH. Several radio veterans were convinced that Jackson's actions were little more than a publicity stunt calling it "just another of his gimmicks, which he will soon drop for another, just to stay in the news."[14]For his part, Jackson responded the charges: We have not...leveled 'blasts at Billy Paul.' We have carefully and consciously avoided 'blasts' at specific entertainers and instead have focused on specific records - of which Billy Paul's 'Let's Make a Baby' is only one in a whole series, increasingly explicit and dominant in a market almost exclusively directed at children.... Love and romance are part of life and we are not suggesting that these subjects should be 'censored' in record lyrics. Our appeal has been directed toward pornographic lyrics that degrade human sexuality rather than uplifting the human spirit. The lyrics change in Billy Paul's record was decided upon independently byWVON radio. Mr. Paul has not protested to WVON about the change. The allegation that we have 'suddenly discovered sexy records' because artists have stopped performing for nothing at PUSH EXPO is patently false.... The fact that several artists performed at EXPO who have songs we find objectionable is further evidence that our concerns are directed not at the artist but at the record.Surprisingly, the controversy only escalated with the release of Paul's next album Let 'Em In in late 1976. The title track was a funky soul version of Paul McCartney's #3 U.S. hit from earlier that summer. While McCartney's version was heavy on personal references and comparatively light on political figures, Billy Paul's version turned the formula on its head to become a kind of civil rights anthem - albeit one with a personal touch due to the mention of his recently deceased twin sister Pauline Williams. As where McCartney only obliquely refers to "Brother John" (John Lennon or brother-in-law John Eastman or John F. Kennedy) and "Martin Luther" (the martyred civil rights leader or the 16th Century theologian),[17][18] Billy Paul's version is far more explicit in reciting a list of deceased civil rights leaders (Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Medgar Evers, andLouis Armstrong). Furthermore, interspersed with Billy Paul's verses are memorable passages of speeches by Malcolm X and King.Yet just as they had done with "Let's Make a Baby," WVON - Chicago's oldest black-oriented radio station - altered the song. This time an engineer at the station spliced in a parts of a speech by Jesse Jackson as a substitute for parts of King's speech.[14] Chicago Tribune columnist Gary Deeb said the station "mutilated" the song, did so in order to solidify ties with Jackson, and called the whole episode "simply ridiculous."[19] Paul was furious and said that he had the "shock of my life" when he learned of the alteration.[14]"In an age of cynicism, suspicion and outright despair, it's uplifting to hear the kind of message that Billy Paul is giving all of us over the radio. Billy Paul is telling us that the dreamers, like Dr. Martin Luther King, are dead now, but it is time to let their dreams begin to come into our souls and begin to make an impact on our society. Congratulations to Billy Paul. Truly he has made a hit, not just with the general public, but also with Almighty God!"[14]Reverend George Clements, the crusading pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church on theSouth Side of Chicago presented Paul with an award for the song on Billy Paul Day, 23 May 1977 that included a ceremony at the church with the church's school choir performing the song.[14] When informed of the honor by Father Clements, Paul reportedly cried tears of joy.[14] Clements said:In all, Let 'Em In was Paul's first LP to crack the top 100 pop album chart since 1972's 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, reaching #88. Paul also had his usual success on the Soul charts with the album hitting #27 and the singles "How Good is Your Game," "I Trust You," and "Let 'Em In" reaching #50, #79, and #91 respectively. Paul's version of the Elton John hit "Your Song" cracked the top 40 in the U.K reaching #38.Paul released Only the Strong Survive in 1977 and it proved to be his final charting album reaching #152 on the Pop chart and #36 Soul. The LP's title track was the first single reaching #68 on the Soul chart and #33 in the UK. The next time Paul's voice would be heard during the summer of 1977 was on the track "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto" featuring the "Philadelphia International All-Stars": Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, Archie Bell, Teddy Pendergrass, Dee Dee Sharp Gamble, and Eddie Levert and Walter Williams of The O'Jays. The song reached #91 on the Pop chart and #4 on the Soul chart. The Let's Clean Up the Ghetto album also included the Billy Paul tracks (both written by Gamble & Huff) "New Day" and "New World Comin'." All proceeds from the album and single went toward a program to benefit inner-cities throughout the U.S. Paul followed up the success of both his "Only the Strong Survive" single and "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto" with "Sooner or Later" - another track from his latest LP. Yet the track failed to chart as did "Don't Give Up on Us" and "Everybody's Breaking Up" which was officially released in the U.K. but only issued to radio in the U.S.Paul's final studio album for Philadelphia International was First Class, issued in 1979. It was the first album since his 1968 debut Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club that did not make either the Pop or Soul charts. The LP's first single "Bring the Family Back" failed to chart but a 12" disco version did reach #90 on the Soul chart and #51 on the Dance chart. "False Faces" was also released in both single and 12" disco versions but neither charted.Paul's run at Philadelphia International officially ended with the 1980 release Best of Billy Paul. This double-album compilation included four previously unreleased tracks: "You're My Sweetness," "Next to Nature," "What Are We Going to Do Now That He's Back," and "My Old Flame." The UK version was a single LP titled Billy Paul's Greatest Hits with a different track listing and only one of the "new" songs: "You're My Sweetness". That song was released as a single and reached #69 on the Soul chart. Paul's final single for Philadelphia International was an edited version of a song from his first Philadelphia International album Going East: "Jesus Boy (You Only Look Like a Man)" which failed to chart.Numerous "best of" compilations of Paul's Philadelphia International work have been released over the years, though critics have made plain that most have failed to capture the right balance of singles and album tracks to fully represent the depth and breadth of his PIR output. For example, AllMusic's Andrew Hamilton said of the 2002 collectionSuper Hits: "If you didn't live and die with Billy Paul's albums when he cranked them out on Philadelphia International Records, you won't have a clue as to what his fans want to hear. To compile a CD from Paul's singles is to compile a mediocre collection; you have to supplement the singles with choice LP cuts. And with a brief ten-track collection like this, some of the singles should have been replaced with a few of Paul's icy album joints."[20] By contrast, Jason Ankeny said that the 1999 compilation Me & Mrs. Jones: Best of Billy Paul "goes far beyond the classic title track in restoring the singer to prominence, showcasing his versatility via superb covers of pop favorites.... [and] the inclusion of R&B chart hits.... it all adds up to a definitive portrait of Paul in his prime."Paul was on the Philadelphia International label, in all, for nine years and while he enjoyed considerable success - especially with "Me and Mrs. Jones" - critics generally agree that he deserved better. Andrew Hamilton put it bluntly: "Gamble and Huff did a horrible job picking Paul's singles. Some better choices, and his career might have been Hall-of-Famish." Similarly, Jason Ankeny wrote: "Too easily dismissed as little more than a one-hit wonder, Billy Paul was, in fact, one of the most gifted and affecting talents to grace the Philadelphia International stable - the recipient of some of the Gamble and Huff team's most lush and sophisticated productions. His deeply soulful voice bridged the gap between jazz and soul, textured in equal measure by street-smart swagger and touching vulnerability."Paul made two studio albums in the 1980s. The first Lately was released in 1985 and was a dramatic musical departure from the lush Philadelphia Soul of his previous efforts. Recorded for Lonnie Simmons' Total Experience Records, the album's synthesizer and keyboard-driven tracks (typical of music production at the time) were closer to Simmons' work with The Gap Band and Yarbrough and Peoples than they were to Paul's 70's orchestrated wall of sound. The album's title track, a ballad, was released as a single in the U.K. but did not chart. The follow-up single - a slow jam called "Sexual Therapy" - fared better climbing to #80 on the U.K. charts.Paul's final studio album was 1988's Wide Open for the Ichiban label. Similar in production style to his previous release, though perhaps a bit smoother, it reached #61 on the Soul chart. However, the singles "We Could Have Been" and "I Just Love You So Much" failed to chart. Paul announced his retirement in 1989 on stage in London. But like so many artists before him, he could not resist the temptation to continue to play live shows and record. In 2009 he was asked how he was enjoying his retirement in South Jersey: "Retired? Are you serious?" Post-"retirement," Paul regularly toured in the U.S. and abroad playing small clubs, hotel ballrooms, Las Vegas showrooms, Jazz festivals, and theaters. For example, Paul has played Sweetwater's on Amsterdam and 68th street in New York City; the Cape May Jazz Fest; the Almanaque Café in São Paulo, Brazil; and the Carthage Palace Hotel in Tunis, Tunisia.Asked in 2012 whether playing in Philadelphia held special meaning to him: "I try to feel comfortable wherever I play, but they call it being a native son and I do get a lot of respect there so it is special. The reaction internationally is great as well, so even in Paris or Brazil we have great audiences. Songs like Mrs. Jones are huge everywhere so I do perform a lot overseas."In 2000 he released a CD - Live World Tour 1999-2000 - on his own label, Philly Sounds. Recorded in São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; Bermuda, and Philadelphia, it contained the following tracks: "Billy's Back Home," "Love Buddies," "When Love is New," "This is Your Life," "Thanks for Saving My Life," "Let's Get It On/What's Going On," "War of the Gods," "I Believe I Can Fly," "Your Song," "Without You," and "Mr & Mrs. Jones." Two years later, a complete show from that tour was released outside the U.S. on the PID label. Titled, Your Songs: Live in Paris," it was recorded in December 2000 at a private event for the RFM TV Channel at Studio 287 in Paris, France. It includes the songs "July, July, July, July," "Only the Strong Survive," "It's Too Late," "Brown Baby," "Let 'Em In," "It's Critical," "False Faces," and "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto" among others.As these live albums illustrate, Paul's concert set lists have been varied, containing both his own songs as well as cover versions of jazz, soul, rock, and pop tunes. For example, his 16 September 2001 Sunday afternoon show at Gloria's Seafood in Philadelphia featured: "Billy Boy," "Billy's Back Home," "Just in Time," "Old Folks," "Sleeping Bee," "Ebony Woman," "Thanks for Saving My Life," "Love Buddies," "April in Paris/I Love Paris," and "Me and Mrs. Jones."

After Neptune folded, Gamble & Huff started their third label - Philadelphia International Records (PIR) - and brought Paul with them. Gamble & Huff signed a distribution deal with Clive Davis and CBS Records hoping to reach the broad audience that they were unable to with their previous independent labels.

His 12 June 2011 show in São Paulo, Brazil consisted of: "Thanks for Saving My Life," "I Will Survive" (performed by backing vocalist Anna Jordan), "Hello," "Purple Rain," "Smile," "Mrs. Robinson," "Your Song," "Me and Mrs. Jones," and "You Are So Beautiful."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Musical Icon PRINCE Dead at 57

The GroovaLottos and the entire Song Keepers family mourn the loss of Prince Roger Nelson, best known as PRINCE. Prince’s body was discovered inside his Minnesota home on Thursday, April 21,  little is known about his cause of death, aside from the reports that he had been battling an illness for weeks beforehand. Prince cancelled a pair of concerts in Atlanta earlier this month, citing the flu. A week later, his private jet had to make an emergency landing in Moline Ill., when he fell ill.

Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Mattie Della (Shaw) and John Lewis Nelson. His parents were both African-American and his family ancestry is centered in Louisiana, with all four of his grandparents hailing from that state. Prince's father was a pianist and songwriter and his mother was a jazz singer. Prince was named after his father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. In a 1991 interview with A Current Affair, Prince's father said, "I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do". Prince's childhood nickname was Skipper.
In a PBS interview, Prince told Tavis Smiley that he was "born epileptic" and "used to have seizures" when he was young. During the interview, he also said: "My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, 'Mom, I'm not going to be sick anymore,' and she said, 'Why?' and I said, 'Because an angel told me so'."
Prince's sister Tika Evene (usually called Tyka) was born in 1960. Both siblings developed a keen interest in music, and this was encouraged by their father. Prince wrote his first tune, "Funk Machine", on his father's piano when he was seven. When Prince was ten years old, his parents separated. Prince constantly switched homes following the separation, sometimes living with his father and sometimes with his mother and stepfather. Finally, he moved into the home of neighbors named the Andersons and befriended their son Andre Anderson, who later became known as André Cymone.
Prince and Anderson joined Prince's cousin Charles Smith in a band called Grand Central while they were attending Minneapolis's Central High School. Smith was later replaced by Morris Day on the drums. Prince played piano and guitar for the band, which performed at clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area. Grand Central later changed its name to Champagne and started playing original music influenced by Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and Todd Rundgren. Rock critics have noted similarities between Prince's later androgynous look, music and vocal style and that of Little Richard.
Prince also played basketball in high school, and continued to play it for recreation as an adult, which later inspired a famous Dave Chappelle sketch.

In 1975, Pepe Willie, the husband of Prince's cousin, Shauntel, formed the band 94 East with Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie Lazenberry. Willie hired André Cymone and Prince to record tracks with 94 East. Those songs were written by Willie and Prince contributed guitar tracks. Prince also co-wrote, with Willie, the 94 East song, "Just Another Sucker". The band recorded tracks which later became the album Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings. Prince also recorded, but never released, a song written by Willie, "If You See Me" (also known as, "Do Yourself a Favor"). In 1995, Willie released the album 94 East featuring Prince, Symbolic Beginning, which included original recordings by Prince and Cymone.
In 1976, Prince created a demo tape with producer Chris Moon in Moon's Minneapolis studio. Unable to secure a recording contract, Moon brought the tape to Owen Husney, a Minneapolis businessman. Husney signed Prince, at the age of 17, to a management contract and helped Prince create a demo recording at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis using producer/engineer David Z. The demo recording, along with a press kit produced at Husney's ad agency, resulted in interest from several record companies including Warner Bros. Records, A&M Records, and Columbia Records.
With the help of Husney, Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros.. The record company agreed to give Prince creative control for three albums and ownership of the publishing rights.Husney and Prince then left Minneapolis and moved to Sausalito, California where Prince's first album, For You, was recorded at Record Plant Studios. Subsequently, the album was mixed in Los Angeles and released on April 7, 1978. According to the For You album notes, Prince produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on the recording. The album was written and performed by Prince, except for the song "Soft and Wet" which had lyrics co-written by Moon. The cost of recording the album was twice Prince's initial advance. Prince used the Prince's Music Co. to publish his songs. "Soft and Wet" reached No. 12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song "Just as Long as We're Together" reached No. 91 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.

In 1979, Prince created a band that included André Cymone on bass, Dez Dickerson on guitar, Gayle Chapman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, and Bobby Z. on drums. Their first show was at the Capri Theater on January 5, 1979. Warner Bros. executives attended the show but decided that Prince and the band needed more time to develop his music. In October 1979, Prince released a self-titled album, Prince, which was No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Black Albums charts, and No. 22 on the Billboard 200, going platinum. It contained two R&B hits: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover". "I Wanna Be Your Lover" sold over a million copies, and reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 for two weeks on the Hot Soul Singles chart. Prince performed both these songs on January 26, 1980, on American Bandstand. On this album, Prince used Ecnirp Music – BMI.
In 1980, Prince released the album, Dirty Mind, which he recorded in his own studio. The album was certified gold and the attendant single "Uptown" reached No. 5 on the Billboard Dance chart and No. 5 on the Hot Soul Singles charts. Prince was also the opening act for Rick James' 1980 Fire It Up tour. Dirty Mind contained sexually explicit material, including the title song, "Head", and the song "Sister". In February 1981, Prince made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live, performing "Partyup". In October 1981, Prince released the album, Controversy. He played several dates in support of it, at first as one of the opening acts for the Rolling Stones, who were then on tour in the US. He began 1982 with a small tour of college towns where he was the headlining act. The songs on Controversy were published by Controversy Music – ASCAP, a practice he continued until the Emancipation album in 1996. Controversy also marked the introduction of Prince's use of abbreviated spelling, such as spelling the words you as Uto as 2, and for as 4, as indicated by the inclusion of the track "Jack U Off". (His earlier song titles had used conventional spelling.) By 2002, noted that "[n]ow all of his titles, liner notes and Web postings are written in his own shorthand spelling, as seen on 1999's Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, which featured 'Hot Wit U.'"
In 1981, Prince formed a side project band called the Time. The band released four albums between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing most of the instrumentation and backing vocals, with lead vocals by Morris Day. In late 1982, Prince released a double album, 1999, which sold over three million copies. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit in countries outside the US. Prince's "Little Red Corvette" was one of the first two videos by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV, along with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".The song "Delirious" also placed in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
During this period Prince referred to his band as the Revolution. The band's name was also printed, in reverse, on the cover of 1999 inside the letter "I" of the word "Prince". The band consisted of Lisa Coleman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, Bobby Z. on drums, Brown Mark on bass, and Dez Dickerson on guitar. Jill Jones, a backing singer, was also part of The Revolution line up for the 1999 album and tour. Following the 1999 Tour, Dickerson left the group for religious reasons. In the 2003 book Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince, author Alex Hahn says that Dickerson was reluctant to sign a three-year contract and wanted to pursue other musical ventures. Dickerson was replaced by Wendy Melvoin, a childhood friend of Coleman. At first the band was used sparsely in the studio but this gradually changed during the mid-1980s.
Prince's 1984 album Purple Rain sold more than 13 million copies in the US and spent 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film of the same name won an Academy Award and grossed more than $80 million in the US.
Songs from the film were hits on pop charts around the world, while "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" reached No. 1 and the title track reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. At one point in 1984, Prince simultaneously had the No. 1 album, single, and film in the US; it was the first time a singer had achieved this feat. Prince won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain, and the album is ranked 72nd Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album is included on the list of Time magazine's All-Time 100 Albums. After Tipper Gore heard her 12-year-old daughter Karenna listening to Prince's song "Darling Nikki", she founded the Parents Music Resource Center. The center advocates the mandatory use of a warning label ("Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics") on the covers of records that have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors. The recording industry later voluntarily complied with this request. Of what is considered the Filthy Fifteen Prince's compositions appear no. 1 and no. 2, with the fourth position occupied by his protégée Vanity.
In 1985, Prince announced that he would discontinue live performances and music videos after the release of his next album. His subsequent recording Around the World in a Day held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks. In 1986 his album Parade reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the R&B charts. The first single, "Kiss", with the video choreographed by Louis Falco, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was originally written for a side project called Mazarati. That same year the song "Manic Monday", which was written by Prince and recorded by The Bangles, reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart. The album Parade served as the soundtrack for Prince's second film, Under the Cherry Moon. Prince directed and starred in the movie, which also featured Kristin Scott Thomas. He received the Golden Raspberry Award for his efforts in acting and directing.
In 1986, Prince began a series of sporadic live performances called the Hit n Run – Parade Tour. After the tour Prince abolished The Revolution, fired Wendy & Lisa and replaced Bobby Z. with Sheila E. Brown Mark quit the band while keyboardist Doctor Fink remained. Prince then recruited new band members Miko Weaver on guitar, Atlanta Bliss on trumpet, Eric Leeds on saxophone, Boni Boyer on keyboards, Levi Seacer, Jr. on bass and dancer Cat Glover.

Prior to the disbanding of The Revolution, Prince was working on two separate projects, The Revolution album Dream Factory and a solo effort, Camille. Unlike the three previous band albums, Dream Factory included significant input from the band members and even featured a number of songs with lead vocals by Wendy & Lisa, while the Camille project saw Prince create a new persona primarily singing in a speeded-up, female-sounding voice. With the dismissal of The Revolution, Prince consolidated material from both shelved albums, along with some new songs, into a three-LP album to be titled Crystal Ball. However, Warner Bros. forced Prince to trim the triple album to a double album and Sign "O" the Times was released on March 31, 1987.
The album peaked at No.6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The first single, "Sign o' the Times", would chart at No. 3 on the Hot 100. The follow-up single, "If I Was Your Girlfriend" charted poorly at No. 67 on the Hot 100, but went to No.12 on R&B chart. The third single, a duet with Sheena Easton, "U Got the Look" charted at No. 2 on the Hot 100, No. 11 on the R&B chart,[52] and the final single "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" finished at No.10 on Hot 100 and No.14 on the R&B chart.
Despite receiving the greatest critical acclaim of any album in Prince's career, including being named the top album of the year by the Pazz & Jop critics' poll, and eventually selling 3.2 million copies, album sales steadily declined.[53] In Europe, however, it performed well and Prince promoted the album overseas with a lengthy tour. Putting together a new backing band from the remnants of The Revolution, Prince added bassist Levi Seacer, Jr., Boni Boyer on keyboards, and dancer/choreographer Cat Glover to go with new drummer Sheila E. and holdovers Miko Weaver, Doctor Fink, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and the Bodyguards (Jerome, Wally Safford, and Greg Brooks) for the Sign o' the Times Tour.
The tour was a success overseas, with Warner Bros. and Prince's managers wanting to bring it to the US to resuscitate sagging sales of Sign "O" the Times; however, Prince balked at a full US tour, as he was ready to produce a new album. As a compromise the last two nights of the tour were filmed for release in movie theaters. The film quality was deemed subpar and reshoots were performed at his Paisley Park studios. The film Sign o' the Times was released on November 20, 1987. Much like the album, the film garnered more critical praise than the previous year's Under the Cherry Moon; however, its box-office receipts were minimal, and it quickly left theaters.
The next album intended for release was to be The Black Album. More instrumental and funk and R&B themed than recent releases, The Black Album also saw Prince experiment with hip hop music on the songs "Bob George" and "Dead on It". Prince was set to release the album with a monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but after 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had it recalled. It would later be released by Warner Bros. as a limited edition album in 1994. Prince went back in the studio for eight weeks and recorded Lovesexy.
Released on May 10, 1988, Lovesexy serves as a spiritual opposite to the dark The Black Album. Every song is a solo effort by Prince, with exception of "Eye No" which was recorded with his backing band at the time, dubbed the "Lovesexy Band" by fans. Lovesexy would reach No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the R&B albums chart. The lead single, "Alphabet St.", peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 and No. 3 on the R&B chart, but finished with only selling 750,000 copies.
Prince again took his post-Revolution backing band (minus the Bodyguards) on a three leg, 84-show Lovesexy World Tour; although the shows were well received by huge crowds, they lost money due to the expensive sets and incorporated props.
In 1989, Prince appeared on Madonna's studio album Like a Prayer, co-writing and singing the duet "Love Song" and playing electric guitar (uncredited) on the songs "Like a Prayer", "Keep It Together", and "Act of Contrition". He also began work on a number of musical projects, including Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic and early drafts of his Graffiti Bridge film, but both were put on hold when he was asked by Batmandirector Tim Burton to record several songs for the upcoming live-action adaptation. Prince went into the studio and produced an entire nine-track album that Warner Bros. released on June 20, 1989. Batman peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200, selling 4.3 million copies.The single "Batdance" topped the Billboard and R&B charts.
Additionally, the single "The Arms of Orion" with Sheena Easton charted at No. 36, and "Partyman" (also featuring the vocals of Prince's then-girlfriend, nicknamed Anna Fantastic) charted at No. 18 on the Hot 100 and at No. 5 on the R&B chart, while the love ballad "Scandalous!" went to No. 5 on the R&B chart.[51] However, he did have to sign away all publishing rights to the songs on the album to Warner Bros. as part of the deal to do the soundtrack.
In 1990, Prince went back on tour with a revamped band for his stripped down, back-to-basics Nude Tour. With the departures of Boni Boyer, Sheila E., the horns, and Cat, Prince brought in Rosie Gaines on keys, drummer Michael Bland, and dancing trio The Game Boyz (Tony M., Kirky J., and Damon Dickson). The European and Japanese tour was a financial success with its short, greatest hits setlist. As the year progressed, Prince finished production on his fourth film, Graffiti Bridge, and the album of the same name. Initially, Warner Bros. was reluctant to fund the film, but with Prince's assurances it would be a sequel to Purple Rain as well as the involvement of the original members of The Time, the studio greenlit the project. Released on August 20, 1990, the album reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and R&B albums chart. The single "Thieves in the Temple" reaching No. 6 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart. Also from that album, "Round and Round" placed at No. 12 on the US charts and No. 2 on the R&B charts. The song featured the teenage Tevin Campbell (who also had a role in the film) on lead vocals. The film, released on November 20, 1990, was a critical and box-office flop, grossing just $4.2 million.[72] After the release of the film and album, the last remaining members of The Revolution, Miko Weaver and Doctor Fink, left Prince's band.