Revolution keyboardist “Doctor” Matt Fink, who continued playing with Prince for five years after the Prince dissolved the band in 1986, is threading the needle between critics who loved Madonna’s performance and fans on social media who have been caustically critical.
“I’m a huge Madonna fan, always have been, and I know her heart was in, all of it,” Fink tells Billboard. “My own personal opinion was I wish she’d done more of a medley, maybe, not just ‘Nothing Compares’ and go right into ‘Purple Rain’ with Stevie Wonder. I thought there should have been more thought put into it as a real tribute, give the fans more than two songs. Maybe she should’ve done three or four where it’s more medley style and culminating with ‘Purple Rain.'”
Fink — who’s part of the Minneapolis-based Prince tribute band the Purple Xperience — also echoes the sentiment of some fans online who opined that the Revolution should have been invited to take part in the tribute, not unlike the Eagles playing at the Grammys just weeks after Glenn Frey passed away. “I wish the producers of the show had asked affiliated Prince artists to be involved with it, too,” says Fink, although he quickly adds that, “I don’t know if the Revolution would have done it. Even if we’d been asked in a proper way I think we may have turned it down because…it’s too soon. I don’t know how that would be perceived. But nobody asked us.”
The Revolution does plan to ride again, however. Fink confirmed that the group plans to start doing shows together later this year, following a large-scale memorial concert that’s expected to take place during mid-August in Minneapolis. “Maybe October or November, December we’ll start to do a few shows here in the U.S., and it would slowly ramp up throughout 2017 to possibly go overseas into Europe and Japan, that kind of thing,” Fink says.
The group, sans Prince, did reunite in 2012 for an American Heart Association benefit at First Avenue in Minneapolis put together by drummer Bobby Z, which provided a template for how the upcoming Revolution shows will work. “Wendy [Melvoin] will front the band and sing,” Fink says, “and we’ll have guest singers possibly join us on stage. We don’t know who yet — that’s still to be determined. But we have offers from various people who are recognizable.”
Fink adds that Prince had even expressed some interest in reuniting with the Revolution in the fall of 2014, the last time Fink saw Prince. “He was considering it at that time, actually,” Fink recalls. “He acted like he was open to it. It’s something that we’ve tried to do over the years…and he really didn’t want to, so we just put it on hold. Now we feel like it’s more timely than ever to do it.”
Fans might get the chance to hear the Revolution again on record as well, according to Fink, once Prince’s vaults are opened and explored. “At the end of 1986 there were definitely two albums in the can that never saw the light of day,” he says. “It’s stuff that was recorded with the group and co-written with the group, just a continuation of what we were doing after the Parade album and before Prince made the decision to disband the group at that point.” Fink adds that the Revolution members have made “an open offer to Prince’s family to put those out as soon as possible.”
Until all this transpires, however, the Revolution members have been in close touch, dealing with their former boss’ shocking death. “We’re consoling each other,” Fink says. “We’re all incredibly shocked and saddened by his passing. We loved him quite a lot. Even though I’m pretty far removed from working with him, I never stopped communicating with him over the years and always respected him as a musician. You can’t deny what a talent he was. It’s hard, because you think about how he went, how he passed, and it’s very hard to take. It’s just not fitting for someone of his stature to have gone the way he did. It bothers me to no end that he was possibly alone or that it was possibly drug use and it wasn’t addressed properly.”
Not surprisingly, the Purple Xperience has been “inundated” with offers since Prince’s passing. The group went ahead with a show in Chicago the night after Prince died, and Fink acknowledges that he feels a bit more responsibility now to carry the tour for that particular period of Prince’s career.
“The fans have been extremely grateful and appreciative to be able to come out and hear the music performed like it was back in the day, accurately, and having a former member of the Revolution guiding that and making it work in a way that sounds a lot like the records, as close as we can get it,” Fink explains. “We’re doing our best to emulate the artist. I get fans who say, ‘I was unable to see Prince, I was never able to get to a concert’ or ‘He didn’t come to our city’ or ‘I couldn’t afford the tickets’ or any number of reasons. So for them it’s the next best thing to seeing Prince live…and that’s what tribute bands should do.”