You Say You Want a Revolution

Prince’s band gets back together to celebrate his legacy

As one of two original members of Prince’s band The Revolution, Matt “Dr. Fink” Fink has played many parts in the musical life of Minneapolis. He played with Prince until 1991 (post-Revolution) and became a Twin Cities mainstay in the recording studio and on the stage. He’s still a hometown guy, but he has hit the road with his bandmates, including drummer Bobby Z. (the other original member), guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Lisa Coleman and bassist Mark Brown. They will bring Prince’s music to life at Brooklyn Bowl June 21. Wear your purple and party like it’s 1999!

How did you discover Prince?

I wasn’t even aware he existed until Bobby Z., our drummer, played [me] Prince’s demo tape that was used to shop him to the record labels back in, probably, 1977. Bobby’s older brother, David, had helped to record those demos at one of the best studios here in Minneapolis, which was called Sound 80 at the time. As soon as I finished listening to it, I said, “Well, this is astounding, who is the band? They’re awesome. I love it.” Bobby says, “It’s not a band, it’s a guy your age and he went into the studio and wrote and produced and performed all the instruments. All one person. Nobody else.” And I go, “And he’s 19 years old?” “Yeah.”

And how did Prince discover you?

They already had the whole band together except for the keyboard slot, and as soon as I heard through the grapevine that this other guy had walked away and they had opened up auditions, I called Bobby, and [the guy who was both] Bobby and Prince’s manager, right away, said, “Please, I’m ready, get me in, I want to be a part of this.” So they granted me my wish and, of course, the rest is history.

We did all that, and then once we got past that initial phase in late ’79 they teamed us up on tour with Rick James as the opening act. We were fortunate to hook up with that tour and play through the spring of 1980 with Rick James. It was interesting—as we all know, [he was] quite a character himself. There was an immediate rivalry developed between Rick and Prince. It got fairly competitive on the road because we were doing really well as the opening slot.

“Experimenting with acting, with humor, with music, that was something he did on a daily basis. He just went 24/7, never stopped. One of the most creative, prolific people I’ve ever known: I watched him in the studio do some things like Mozart did.” — Matt “Dr. Fink” Fink on Prince

How did Purple Rain, the movie, come about?

Prince came to me right at the end of the 1999 tour; I just happened to be sitting in one of the hotel restaurants by myself. He came in and sat down with me and said, “Hey, how’s it going?” I go, “Great.” He says, “I got to tell you about some plans I’m thinking about.” And he brought up the fact that he wanted to do this film. I was somewhat shocked by the idea, but I thought it was interesting.

I said, “If you can get this launched, I’m 100 percent behind you. I believe in your talents to make something like that happen.” I knew his personality, I knew he could probably act, even though he didn’t really have much, if any, acting experience. But I knew that he had a natural talent for it by the way he behaved and would make up skits. He’d get a video camera out and then we’d do almost our own version of Second City’s TV skits and stuff. I wouldn’t doubt those VHS tapes are sitting in his vault still to this day. It would be really be hilarious if those ever came to light.

Experimenting with acting, with humor, with music, that was something he did on a daily basis. He just went 24/7, never stopped. One of the most creative, prolific people I’ve ever known: I watched him in the studio do some things like Mozart did. When you see the Mozart film showing him writing symphonies just streaming out of his brain and writing it down, without playing an instrument—just writing each orchestral part, and hearing it in his head, kind of singing it, humming it, writing it down—Prince was able to do that in the studio. He would just play it—he would hear it in his head and it would stream out of him in one take. And he would do this on a regular basis.

How does it feel to perform Prince’s music without him?

Well, after Prince had passed, immediately we all got together. The first people we called were each other. The sheer shock of it all was just overwhelming for all of us. We immediately got together in Minneapolis. We got together out in Los Angeles as well, about a month after that. And we thought, “You know, what do you think we should do? Should we do some special events to honor Prince?”

Now that the Revolution is reunited, the reviews coming in from critics and fans alike say, “I just can’t believe how great they sound, they sound just like the recordings. They really nailed it.” We have nailed it. It’s just a damn shame that this happened, and that we were not able to work with him again. So we all feel that. It’s palpable. Wherever we perform, it’s bittersweet for all of us. 

The Revolution

June 21, 8:30 p.m., $30–$60, Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade,