- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It’s been a year since Prince died suddenly at his Minnesota home, and while the music world will likely never be the same, the Purple One’s former bandmates aim to keep his legacy alive. The Revolution, the ensemble that famously backed Prince in the film “Purple Rain,” rolls into Silver Spring, Maryland’s The Fillmore Thursday to pay tribute to its departed bandleader.

“It’s so hard to get by the profound loss that still haunts us,” Revolution drummer Bobby Z. told The Washington Times. “The only way we feel we can really heal and communicate with the fans is to play this amazing music he wrote.”

Despite backing Prince for the uncommonly successful “Purple Rain” album and film, Prince disbanded the ensemble in 1986, then performed either solo or with another band, The New Revolution.

The Revolution reunited for some one-offs in the early aughts and then performed a benefit in 2012 at First Avenue, the iconic club where “Purple Rain” was filmed.

“Nobody did it better,” Bobby Z. said of his deceased bandleader. “He could play almost any instrument.”

Following Prince’s death April 21, 2016, The Revolution announced they were reforming to tour in honor of their leader’s memory. Bobby Z. returned, as did Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink and Brown Mark.

“The first time I played ‘Purple Rain,’ I could barely get through it,” Bobby Z. said. “But music always pulls you through.”

The artist recalls his final communication with Prince, which came after the singer’s plane was diverted on its way to Minneapolis to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, not long before he died.

Prince told his former drummer that, despite the medical situation that forced the unscheduled stop, he was feeling OK.

“Like everybody else, I took that at face value, but hoped for the best,” Bobby Z. said. “But I knew something was strange.”

The Revolution’s surviving members take turns on vocals. Bobby Z. said that it’s far more important that the audience be enveloped in the energy of the show rather than any one musician being at center stage.

“Some of those songs you can’t do without him, and some you can,” he said. “We choose to cover the ones that have audiences” sing along, such as “Let’s Get Crazy,” “1999” and, of course, “Purple Rain.”

Bobby Z. said the draw for audiences to come see The Revolution is they will get to hear songs they know so well — and saw performed in the film — played by the original lineup of musicians.

“Hopefully it creates a sense of awe that Prince was so good at creating,” he said, adding the band aims to honor Prince’s memory in their performance Thursday.

With so much rock history at his back, plus a new tour of his famous band, Bobby Z. says there still remains a goal — something he would like to find out there somewhere on the musical horizon.

“Peace of mind,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not quite there yet, but I’m trying.”

The Revolution performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring in Silver Spring, Maryland, Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by going to LiveNation.com.

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