— AN OFFICIAL PATRON-SUPPORTED RELEASE, MAY 31, 2016 —
(cover art by Sarah Beetson)
with the support of 8,000 patrons, we decided to pay tribute to prince.
any of you who know me know that prince was one of my biggest idols, one of my first musical heroes, an everything artist to me.
when jherek first came on tour with me as part of the grand theft orchestra, we reveled in our mutual love of prince’s music.
when prince died, we were barely recovered from bowie’s death and the work we did on the “strung out in heaven” EP.
we texted each other. we knew we had to do something.
this is what we did.
like with bowie…we could think of no better action than to get into the studio, and mourn and feel prince using the music.
there is no better medicine.
to all of our beloved…
punch a higher floor.
p.s. if you haven’t yet joined the patreon, please do. it makes projects like this possible, and it means everything to the musicians, engineers and fine artists whose lives you support.
-A WORD FROM JHEREK ON PRINCE AND PURPLE RAIN-
I came across Prince’s music under strange circumstances. I was a teenager living on a small sailboat traveling all around the world with my family. I was often cut off from any people besides my parents for a month at a time. For some that would be a nightmare, but for me it was alright. I was already practicing hard to be a musician and was learning every bass line and every guitar line on the hundreds of CDs that my family had. After I had exhausted every CD, I came across a tape of my brothers that had “Purple Rain” scribbled on it. I tell this story because I had no clue if Prince was “cool”, or if he was popular or anything. I was not aware of the amazing culture he was forging. I was not aware of what the band looked like. All I knew was that this music touched me extremely deeply. It simultaneously touched on everything I love… drama, skill, visceral impact, intense passion and great songwriting. It just had everything. I didn’t have anyone to bounce these feelings off of, no skater friends, no friends in the band room. Just my headphones relentlessly playing this magnificent record, and the strength of his genius.
Years later, my dearest friend Sam Mickens and I were living together and we had a band called The Dead Science. I finally had someone who shared my deep love of Prince, and we went through a phase of watching Purple Rain nearly every day for a good 6 months. Seriously. This culminated in us having The Dead Science double as a Prince tribute band. We did a couple tours where we would play a Dead Science show and then play a party post- show as a Prince tribute band. It was awesome. We were pretty raw. It was just a three piece; Sam mostly rolled around in ecstatic bliss, while I basically tried to play all the melodic parts on bass as loud as I could, and Nick held down as much rhythm as he could. We had some memorable nights.
Years later I found myself in Amanda Palmer’s Grand Theft Orchestra. For a New Years Eve show, we wanted to do something fun, and we quickly realized that the one artist/record we could all be completely stoked about covering was Prince/Purple Rain. It was yet another memorable evening. I got to sing my absolute favorite song ever, “The Beautiful Ones,” and as the clock struck zero, we finished Purple Rain with an infinite rain of confetti falling down as I kissed my girlfriend.
I got to see Prince live once. I was at a meeting for a music festival I was working at. I knew that Prince was playing that night but I was extremely broke, living in my van, etc. At the end of the meeting, the people from the festival said: “Hey, anyone want to see Prince? We have some free tickets here.” I ran up, snagged a ticket and ran as fast as I could to the venue. I got to my seat right at the moment that Prince walked out on to the stage. I was experiencing his music once again by myself, but this time in a stadium full of people. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen.
I am so in love with Prince and so sad that he is gone.
Amanda and I recently made an EP of David Bowie songs with string quartet and when Prince passed away, we went back and forth about whether we should make something. We knew in our hearts that we wanted to, but it seemed like a bit much, so soon after the Bowie record. But losing Prince was just too much. Losing them both, just too much. Making the Bowie record was so extremely therapeutic for us, and getting deep into those songs really was such an intense and beautiful experience. It was no different working on this. It just gave me an even deeper love of one of the greatest musicians ever to walk this earth.
-….AND A WORD FROM THE ARTIST, SARAH BEETSON-
I awoke on the morning of April 21st to a facebook notification from a good friend of mine who had changed his profile picture to my illustration of Prince. I’d drawn it about 5 years ago in response to a dream I had in which Prince was attempting to seduce me over purple cocktails served by Kate Middleton (now a Princess, of course.) My friend Kristian (who plays Rif Raff in the touring stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), had posted a beautiful tribute to our Purple idol. It was with total disbelief that I started reading the news stories, and again it felt like Bowie – that it must surely be a hoax.
Prince’s greatest hits on CD was the soundtrack to me developing my painting style at art school. I would listen to it into the early hours as I threw paint around my student dorm, with the DVD of Purple Rain playing in the background. I got really into his back catalogue a few years later when I realised Prince played every instrument on his records, as well as writing and producing them. The sexual nature of many of his songs, and his celebration of women through them, was very inspiring to me. His visual style and refusal to play by the book had a huge effect to, and both he and Bowie were certainly an influence on my crazy way of dressing.
I saw him twice in the last few years, in 2011, with Kristian and a gang of purple clad London artist friends, at Hop Farm Festival (which he killed in sparkling gold and glass stilettos and rocked out with slide guitar accompanied by Sly and The Family Stone, chanting: “This is Real Music. Played by Real Musicians.” over and over, and during which my friends and I unfurled a 25 metre bolt of purple fabric across the crowd – getting a mention afterwards on Prince’s website.)
I saw him again in 2014 in Manchester with my mum – the show was so super guitar heavy, and Prince’s style was so 70s – it felt like the spirit of Jimi Hendrix was with us. It felt like he was so thoroughly immersed in creating, playing and celebrating his music in recent years, and I suppose that is our comfort. Prince remained the ultimate artist until the very end. Creating this piece of art was so therapeutic for me, in saying goodbye to His Royal Purple Highness.
here’s me, cutting the vocal in the beautiful futurepast:
here’s Jherek and the strings in LA, purple-raining:
“purple rain”, with the added lyrics from the intro of “let’s go crazy”:
Jherek Bischoff: string arranging, mixing, mastering.
Amanda Palmer: vocals
the team @ ELBO studios in LA:
Serena McKinney – violin
Ben Ullery – viola
Alma Fernandez – viola
Jacob Braun – cello
in the studio:
Chris Fogel – engineer
John Witt Chapman – engineer
Ryan McClure – asst. engineer
the team @ future-past studio in hudson, NY:
Patrick Higgins – head engineer
Rudy Mingaray- assistant engineer
prince artwork: done on commission from the patreon by sarah beetson (http://www.sarahbeetson.com/)
this project was made possible by over 8,000 people supporting the making of true independent art at https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer.
please join so that we can make more of the things we love.
all proceeds of this download (until further notice) will go to the ELEVATE HOPE FOUNDATION, a non-profit that provides therapy through music for abused and abandoned kids…supported by prince and founded by sheila e: http://www.elevatehope.org/
more about the charity:
The Elevate Hope Foundation (EHF) is dedicated to providing abused and abandoned children an alternative method of therapy through music and the arts, and funding special services and programs that assist the needs of these children using these fundamental methods.
Co-founded in 2001 by entertainer Sheila E. and business manager, Lynn Mabry, EHF supports existing programs of their beneficiaries through monetary funding and in-kind donations e.g. musical instruments, art supplies, and work stations complete with computers, keyboards and applicable instructional software.