The New Power Generation
Those who knew Prince knew that he was always pushing himself and experimenting with new sounds and the musical chemistry of working with new musicians was a part of that process. When he formed The New Power Generation (The NPG) in 1990 they went on together to create ‘Diamond & Pearls’ a record that sparked more hits on the Billboard charts than any other Prince album released since Purple Rain. It is an honor to welcome original members of this band to the Bluesfest stage in 2018. Their intent is to honor their boss, their mentor and his music, and to give fans a chance to celebrate and say goodbye to one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
For Prince, The New Power Generation had a deeper meaning than merely what he called his a band. The NPG was formally introduced as Prince’s new backing band in the summer of 1990 when they made their live debut on the Nude Tour. They were also the name of his band in the film, Graffiti Bridge,
which included the song, “New Power Generation” on the accompanying soundtrack album
“Lay down your funky weapon, come join us on the floor. Making love and music’s the only things worth fighting 4. We r the new power generation, we want 2 change the world. The only thing that’s in our way is u. Your old fashioned music, your old ideas, we’re sick and tired of u telling us what 2 do.” (Prince)
Most reviews on the first official release of Prince & the New Power Generation’s ‘Diamonds & Pearls’ pointed to the musical synergy between him and his new band. This unique collaboration is still spoken about; after Prince died in 2016 Spin Magazine did a look back at their favourite Prince albums:
“Prince was in a transitional place in 1991 … and was in the midst of a creative renaissance following the Nude Tour with his newly-formed band, the New Power Generation…And with Diamonds and Pearls, Prince married his new band to Bomb Squad-style hip-hop production and New Jack Swing (a distinctive mix of R&B, dance, and hip-hop that had emerged in 1987) while also delivering his most accessible set of pop songs since 1984’s Purple Rain. The title track is one of the most gorgeous pop songs Prince ever recorded, a melodically lush pop-rock ballad that also echoes the sublime Philly Soul productionsof Linda Creed and Thom Bell. It became a standout showcase for the New Power Generation band in full flight.”
Fast forward to October of 2016 at the acclaimed official Prince Tribute Concert in Minnesota when Morris Hayes – who, after playing keyboards with Prince off and on for 20 years, was tapped as the Musical Director of the event and the original NPG was asked to serve as the house band.
A month after that tribute concert, the mostly original band members got together to discuss officially reuniting to perform a series of concerts under the banner, “Celebrating Prince” in order to give Prince’s fans throughout the U.S. and around the world the opportunity to take part in a musical tribute and celebration of Prince and his music.
The line-up of the band changes with each tour but is comprised primarily of a number of the original members. NPG drummer, Kirk Johnson, is one of the original members – and even performed in Purple Rain. He was a dancer and percussionist in the first incarnation of the NPG, becoming their official drummer for a number of years in the late 1990s.
Morris Hayes took the keyboard position in The NPG in 1992. In fact, Morris was on the Diamonds and Pearls tour with Prince and The NPG, playing with his own band behind the tour’s opening act, Paisley Park Records artist Carmen Electra. Morris would go on to become Prince’s Musical Director staying on until 2012, becoming the band’s longest running member.
For the NPG’s Australian tour, Morris Hayes, Kirk Johnson, Tony Mosley,Damon Dickson and Mono Neon will be joined by guitarist Homer O’Dell (from the Grammy-nominated Minneapolis band “Mint Condition”) and former NPG keyboard player and vocalist, Kip Blackshire. Special guests on lead vocals are Grammy-nominated Támar Davis and longtime Prince friend and bandmate, André Cymone – who was in Prince’s first acclaimed band, Grand Central.
- Morris Hayes: MD / keyboards
- Kirk Johnson: drums
- Tony Mosley: rap vocals & guitar
- Damon Dickson: percussion, dance & background vocals
- Homer O’Dell: guitar
- Mono Neon: bass
- André Cymone - special guest: lead vocals & guitar
- Kip Blackshire - special guest: lead vocals & keyboards
- Támar Davis - special guest; lead vocals
For music lovers, The New Power Generation’s sets will be an opportunity to hear Prince’s music played by the people who made it with him, and to laugh, dance and cry to some of his biggest hits one more time.
THE NEW POWER GENERATION ARE PLAYING BLUESFEST ON FRIDAY 30TH & SATURDAY 31ST MARCH 2018