Pioneers of the Minneapolis Sound
2015 is a significant year for cult Minneapolis outfit, fDeluxe (The Band Formerly Known As The Family), marking the 30th anniversary of their much celebrated debut album ‘The Family’. Released in August 1985 the 8 song, self titled set is possibly one of the greatest funk albums of the 80s, and remains to this day an often overlooked treasure.
Formed in the wake of success of Prince’s smash hit film ‘Purple Rain’ The Family featured three former members of his Royal Badness’ nemesis The Time (Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton and “St Paul” Peterson) along with sax player Eric Leeds and Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy.
Signed to Prince’s Paisley Park Records the album charted in the Billboard Top 15 and spawned 2 hit singles ‘Screams Of Passion’ (#9) and ‘High Fashion’ (#34), both penned by their musical mentor. In 1990 Irish singer Sinead O’Connor scored a worldwide smash with her cover of the album’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Described as the “missing link between the psychedelic sounds of ‘Around The World In A Day’ and the horn-infused funk of ‘Parade” The Family has been cited as an all-time favourite by artists such as Dam-Funk, Questlove, Chris Rock, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo to name but a few.
The band disbanded after one concert – a sold out show at Minneapolis’ famous First Avenue – and, while they remained in touch with each other, the members forged careers down separate paths. That is until mutual friend Sheila E. convinced them to reunite for a huge charity concert in L.A.’s Forum. A year later The Roots persuaded them to appear at their lauded post Grammy party. After wrestling with the legal requirement of a new name fDeluxe reunited in 2009 and have released the critically acclaimed studio albums ‘Gaslight’ and ‘AM Static’ along with a blistering concert set ‘Live & Tight As A Funk Fiend’s Fix’.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of ‘The Family’ fDeluxe will be heading out on tour later in the year. The group will, for the very first time, perform the debut record in its entirety along with, tracks from their acclaimed reunion releases. First date announced is a hometown show at The Dakota on November 24 in support of The Southdale YMCA*.
“It’s hard to believe it was 30 years ago that this life changing record came out” says front man, producer and multi-instrumentalist St Paul Peterson. “It’s as funky now as it was then. We all look forward to celebrating this occasion by playing that record live. 30 and the groove is still dirty!”
St Paul and Eric Leeds joined the celebrations at Paisley Park September 5th after accepting an invite from Prince to perform at the worldwide launch of his new album ‘Hit n Run’. The very next day they were also asked by D’Angelo to open up for his show at First Avenue with their offshoot band LP Music. Their special guest was “The Roots” drummer Questlove.
Lead vocalist/composer Susannah Melvoin grew up in an L.A. based musical family, the daughter of legendary composer and keyboardist Michael Melvoin. Susannah’s resume boasts projects with Prince, Madonna, Seal, Doyle Bramhall II, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Trevor Horn, Questlove, Erykah Badu, William Orbit and The Grid. She has regularly toured with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and her twin sisters Wendy and Lisa.
Lead vocalist/producer/composer/instrumentalist St. Paul Peterson hails from an equally musical family. His vocalist sisters and musician brothers are very active on the Twin Cities and international music scene. At the tender age of 21 Paul became the leader of The Family and his career took off from there. A wondrously gifted multi-instrumentalist, Paul’s keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals have been featured in The Time and alongside Stevie Wonder, David Sanborn, Digital Underground, Mavis Staples, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie and more. As a songwriter his work has been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Saxophonist/flautist Eric Leeds was not just a player but horn arranger for Prince’s Revolution, his best known band. Leeds also recorded two jazz-fusion albums with Prince under the name Madhouse and produced three solo albums. His recognizable sound has graced recordings by an enviably diverse array of legends including George Benson, George Clinton, Jimmy McGriff, James Brown, Chaka Khan and Kid Creole & The Coconuts.
As the original – and only – drummer for The Time, Jellybean Johnson is that rare musician who has loyally served the same band in the same seat for over twenty years. But in addition to patently funky beats, it’s as a guitarist that Jellybean shines with fDeluxe. As producer and/or songwriter ‘Bean has worked with Janet Jackson, New Edition, Mint Condition, Alexander O’Neal, Nona Hendryx, Karen White, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Cherelle.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“…both a continuation of the Family and a journey in new directions. In other words, it’s got plenty of sanctified funk, dreamy pop, soulful duets and jazzy saxophone.” -Star Tribune