Photo by Tristan Fewings for Global Citizen via Getty Images.
Raphael Saadiq recounted his brief tenure in Prince’s post-Revolution band on the latest episode of Questlove Supreme.
Though he’s currently considered music royalty, Raphael Saadiq wasn’t always so indispensable. And an early gig supporting Prince taught him just how quick the sea can change.
In a new episode of the Questlove Supreme podcast, Saadiq detailed his brief tenure in Prince’s post-Revolution band and the hilariously petty way he was dismissed from the line-up. Saadiq entered the Paisley Park camp by way of Sheila E., who brought him on to play bass for her band as the supporting act on the Japan leg of Parade tour in 1986. By the end of that run in the South Pacific, Prince & The Revolution were on the outs (likely in response to the group demanding better pay,) and during one of their final performances in Yokohama, signaled as much with the on-stage destruction of not one, but two, of his signature “cloud” guitars. In need of some new players to close out the tour and back him for his infamous post-concert shows at clubs, Prince called up an 18-year-old Saadiq and the members of Sheila’s band. “In school, high school, I played in jazz band, I played for choirs, I played gospel, I played funk, I played every club there was, then right off the back, there was Prince and Sheila,” Saadiq recalls, noting how intensely he rehearsed (15-hours-per-day) for the slot and that he was being primed to play in Prince’s jazz-and-funk-fueled side-project, Madhouse.
But as the late icon began previewing his Parade follow-up, Sign O’ The Times, for the inner circle, it was becoming explicitly clear that even the newest additions to his and Sheila’s bands were about to get phased out. “He would see me at the club, and he was like, ‘Come over here, I wanna play you something.’ And then we’ll walk to the speaker. He would look at the DJ and he’d be like, ‘Hold on, put your head in the speaker. So both of us would put our head inside of a folding cabinet and he’ll point to the DJ and then he’d play ‘Housequake’,” Saadiq recounts, adding how it was pretty clear from there on Sheila was about to hit the road with Prince to support the new album and they were about to be let go. The final push came when Sheila’s road manager put McDonald’s applications at their bedside while still on tour. “We woke up with Micky D applications in our bunks cause that was it.”
Elsewhere in his chat with Questo & Co., Saadiq discusses his Oakland upbringing, reveals how being a member of a Prince band became a psuedo writ of passage for Bay Area musicians, and breaks down the formula for Tony! Toni! Toné!’s success.
Hear part one of Raphael Saadiq’s Questlove Supreme interview below. Hold tight for the arrival of the sequel.