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18 August 2013

Every Day is a Winding Road: St. Paul Peterson Talks 2 Beautiful Nights


  Paul Peterson's life has been a music-filled journey.
  The singer, instrumentalist, writer and producer is best known to Prince fans as "St. Paul," co-lead singer of fDeluxe, fomerly known as The Family, along with Susannah Melvoin. The band also includes Jellybean Johnson on drums and Eric Leeds on saxophone.
  Peterson, like Melvoin, also comes from a musical dynasty: his late father was an organist for the Minnesota Twins; his late mother, Jeanne Arland Peterson, was also a much-celebrated pianist and organist; his sisters Patty and Linda Peterson are accomplished singers, his brothers Ricky and Billy Peterson are renowned musicians and producers and his newphew Jason Peterson (JP) DeLaire is a songrwiter, instumentalist and vocalist. He has worked extensively with his family and many other artists including Steve Miller, Oleta Adams and Donny Osmond.
  Peterson is currently the program chair for recording and music technology at the Minneapolis Media Institute and reunited with his fDeluxe bandmates a few years ago. They recorded the album Gaslight (and a remix album titled Relit) and done several shows including a Prince tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in February.
  The band has three shows next week: one at 8 p.m., City Winery, Chicago, August 22 and  at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, August 23. They are also currently in the planning stages of their newest project, Underneath the Covers, an album of cover songs, in conjunction with their fans who are making monetary pledges via to help fund the project.
  Peterson got his break at 17 years old in 1983 when he was chosen to be a keyboard player in The Time, along with Mark Cardenas, replacing former members James "Jimmy Jam" Harris and Monte Moir. (Terry Lewis, the band's original bass player, had, along with Jimmy Jam, been let go from the band).
  He was later chosen by The Purple One to head fDeluxe after The Time broke up. He left that band, after they released their first album in 1985 to pursue a solo career. His self-titled solo album was released on MCA Records in 1986. He released later released two more solo albums, Down to the Wire (1990) and Blue Cadillac (2007).
  Peterson took time out from his vacation by the lake last week do an interview for "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s," where he discussed growing up in a family of musicians, the bond he shares with his fDeluxe bandmates and teaching the next generation of people entering the music business:

  My mother always said to do your musical homework and she was right. I always made sure to go beyond the call of duty when it came to studying my harmony and musicality. She always made me strive to be a better musician and it really helped. I feel it helped me be a better musician and a better person.

  My relationship to music is a love relationship. It's a spiritual relationship. It's a living-and-breathing relationship. It's a daily courtship that never seems to end. It seems to be a deeper relationship as I get older. I seem to understand that relationship better as time goes on. I have learned to respect and never take for granted the relationship I have with music.

  When I was a kid I thought everybody in the neighborhood played instruments. I grew up the youngest of the Peterson family and everybody in my family played (instruments). So, I figured that everybody else's family played, too. When I met a new kid on the street, I'd say, "Hey, what do you play?"

  My brothers and sisters are my teachers. They came up before me, not only in life, but, in the music business. They taught me so much about music and invited me into their world, even though I was the little brother they liked to pick on. They always included me in nearly everything they could musically. (I am) pretty grateful to them for everything.

  When I auditioned for The Time...(laughs faintly) I was scared to death. I'll never forget it. I was, of all things, on vacation in a place called Breezy Point and I got the call for the audition.
  (I) went home and I did not get the cassette tape on time. I got it the night before the audition and had to learn everything the night before the gig.
  I was nervous. I went in did the best I could, based on all the training I got from my family and all the gigs I had done prior to that. I guess it turned out okay. I wish I could remember the exact number (of songs I played), but, it felt like a million songs. It was probably four or five.

  I never dreamed... (speaking in a very deep voice) I'd be talking to you. I've been waiting all my life, baby, to talk to you. I've been waiting many years. (Laughs). Say the question one more time and I'll give you a real answer!
  I never dreamed a little white kid from Richfield, Minn. would end up being in the hottest African-American band in America when he's 17 years old. I never dreamed that Prince would pick me to be the lead singer of  fDeluxe. There's a lot of those. I could go on forever on that. I never dreamed I'd play music with my sisters, brothers and my mom for my entire life. I never dreamed I'd finally get on vacation (laughs).

  The first time I met Prince was at the first callback—my second audition (with The Time). He wasn't at the first one. I was nervous. He was this big rock star.
  He walked into the room and I think we were picking out swatches for the material we were going use for the suits in the movie ("Purple Rain"). It became my orange suit. I had picked out a beautiful black pinstriped suit and he said "No, you've got to stand out." Then he picked out an orange one for me. I said "I'm not wearing that." He said "Yes, you are."
  So, that was one portion of our meeting.

  Filming "Purple Rain..." talk about being thrown to the wolves, in a good way. My phrase is "Be ready for the opportunity, because, you don't when it's going to strike." I was fortunate enough for that to be a pretty incredible opportunity.
  Those guys put me right in the mix. One minute, I'm auditioning for the band, the next minute I'm filming for a little film. We didn't know what it was going to do-- now it's turned into an incredible entity and is part of music history. It's pretty humbling, but, you never know that going in. You have to be ready.
  I think growing up in that family of mine prepared me for a lot of different situations. (But), it couldn't prepare me for what those guys gave to me. It was a whole new line of education.
  The one and only scene where I had a line was when we're (The Time) walking through the back hallways of First Avenue and Morris Day leans back and says "How's the family?"
  They had us there quite a bit, more than you would think. (There were) a lot of club scenes. We didn't have any major speaking roles, but, we were there a lot. It was freezing. I remember that.

  Paul Peterson on replacing departed members of The Time: "I didn't understand the relationship that those guys who remained had with the leaving members. I was a little on the oblivious side. I was so green, which was probably a good thing.
  Looking back, it was probably hard on them. It wasn't hard on me. I'm sure losing their best friends was hard on them. They started this band together, now, they've got some kid from Richfield coming in trying to fill these shoes. I'll tell you what, I think it took a minute for them to adjust to it.
  But, Bean (Jellybean Johnson, the band's drummer) and I have been tight for 30 years. I call him my big brother. No one ever knew we'd have relationships that would last that long."

  I love teaching so much that I am the program chair for recording and music technology at the Minneapolis Media Institute. The campus is at the old Flyte Tyme Studios.
  It's a very interesting connection that I have with Jimmy (Jam) and Terry (Lewis), taking their places in The Time and, later, being in their studios teaching the next generation of producers and engineers how to win in the music business. It's fulfilling and incredible.
  The building was up for sale and my friend Tom Tucker bought it with another partner. They started a school, which became Minneapolis Media Institute. I ended up heading it (the program) after Tucker passed away. I tour less now. You never know what you're going to get with teaching. I can tell you that it can be really fufilling and really frustrating.
  You know and I know what it takes to make it in the (music) business. Some of these 20 year olds-- who think they know everything-- don't understand the work ethic that you need to be able to succeed. I feel that I get paid to teach them how to be teachable: to try (and) change the culture of the next generation of producers and engineers so they understand what it takes to make it in the ever changing music business.
  It's probably harder now to make it in the music business than it was when I was coming up. You could sell records when I was coming up. Now you can't sell records anymore. There are a very select few people who sell records.
  These guys have to figure it out. It's the wild west. We arm them with as many different skills as possible so they can have multiple income streams, put them all together and be able to make a living. It's challenging, but, it's fun.
  I've been teaching for 12 years. I've been the program chair for two or three years. It's funny, sometimes, I'll just show my students my (music) videos and give them a little ammunition. They say "That's you? Are you dancing on the ocean?" I'll say "I'm dancing on the ocean, yes I am."

  Paul Peterson on filming the video for his first solo single "Rich Man": "That (music video) cost more money...I'm still paying for that video! (Laughs). You know Paula Abdul was the choreographer. Yeah, that was my girl. (A.J. Johnson, of "House Party "fame, who is also featured in the video) used to date my drummer Sonny Emory. She was a great friend of mine.
  I introduced her (Abdul) to the producer (Oliver Lieber) who wrote "Forever Your Girl," "Opposites Attract" and all those tracks. That's my boy. He's in the band as a matter of fact (as fDeluxe's guitar player).
  It was fun. I'm not the greatest dancer in the world. I think she had a struggle with me. I was long, lanky and didn't grow into my body until about 10 years after that video. She made me pull it off though. I've got to give it to her. We spent a whole week on dance steps...and she turned me into something that I wasn't. That took me out of my comfort zone."

  fdeluxe's new covers album should be incredibly interesting. We are still in the process of picking out songs. Everybody has their own favorite songs and (we) want to make sure they fit the fDeluxe style or that we can arrange them into the style. Lieber's going to produce it and hopefully, if this pledge comes to fruition, we'll start as early as October and have it out by Christmas.
  We all have such eclectic tastes. We're looking at David Bowie, or obvious ones like Bill Withers and Sly and the Family Stone, to less obvious ones like Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  It's going to be interesting. It's all about the song. If you have a good foundation of a song, you can pretty much go in any direction you want. Leiber is such a killer producer that if I can just leave it in his hands and keep my claws off the steering wheel, we'll be fine.
  He wrote "Rich Man" with me and my brother ended up producing it. He had his hands in the production as well, but, he didn't get any credit. Sorry Oliver, I love you.
  I haven't looked (at the pledge percentage) in a couple of days, because, it's like the stock market: you don't want to keep looking at it. I think we are past the 50 percent mark with another month to go. (As of this writing, the fan pledges have reached 59 percent of the goal with 34 days remaining).
  Our fans have been pretty incredible. There are some great and interesting exclusives on there and people are taking advantage of them. There are (pledge amounts) from $12 to $20,000.

  I'm inspired by a lot of different artists, especially Stevie Wonder. It's funny that you would ask that question, because, sometimes I can into a little bit of a "Why did I get into this business in the first place?" attitude.
  The last month has kind of been that way for me. I've been driving back and forth to the cabin and I've been listening to incredible artists that I grew up loving: like Wonder-- the early records, even before Songs in the Key of Life-- George Benson, Breezin. I got to work with all these guys. That's the cool part. But, this is where it all began, where I fell in love with what I do. Then you go to Earth, Wind and Fire and Steely Dan. The musicality and the groove that is in all of that music. That inspires me.
  All the inner harmonies and melodic tensions that are created by groups of musicians just being in a room with each other, having a conversation, musically, is so incredibly inspiring. My family inspires me. They kick my ass all the time. They don't let me slide on anything and that's good. They made me a better man and musician for it.

  I've always wanted to tour a little more extensively with fDeluxe, my friends. But, that seem to be a little bit harder to do as we age. Not only because we're 50 years old, but, because, we all have separate lives. No one's banking their incomes on it; we're doing it more for fun than anything else.
I wish that we could make it more of a...full-time, making records, making a living situation, because, we love doing it. It's just that we've got kids--in grade school and in college. We all have different lives and we come together when we can. But, I wish we could do it more often.

  It all changed... (speaking in a deep voice) when we started talking on the phone tonight, baby. (Laughs). It all changed...huh? It all changed when I got that audition for The Time. Everything changed.
  It led to other things. When I was done with The Time and done with fDeluxe (in its first incarnation under Prince), I toured with many different artists like Steve Miller, David Sanborn, Kenny Loggins, Oleta Adams. Everything changed when I got the nod. Somebody said "Yeah kid, you got it."
  We all look for that one break. I guess that was it.

  My first solo album was probably one of my favorite records I've ever done. I learned a lot. I was frustrated, I was creative, I was green and I didn't know what I was doing. I got paid to learn. That was my music college right there. It cost a hell of a lot more than it costs today, though. (Laughs). MCA Records is probably saying "Yes, it did."
  I learned so much about songwriting, production, being a solo artist: trying to be a pop act or an R&B act. You've got to set yourself in that midset and I could not lean on someone like Prince to do it for me. In fact, (it was) quite the opposite.
  I really learned what it was like to be a producer, a songwriter and an artist on my own without the help of someone who is a complete superstar. I'm so proud of that record. It stands up to this day: great songs; really good musicians and great interplay. I have no regrets with that.
  I was out in L.A. and I got a call from a gentleman at A&M Records. He wanted me to come over and talk about doing some production on a kid named Janet Jackson. Well, I knew who she was. This was before "Control," when Jesse Johnson was working with her.
  I went over there and he (the representative for A&M Records) said "I don't want you to produce Jackson, I want you to leave Prince and come with me." I said "What? Leave Prince? Are you nuts?" Then he showed me the dollar figure he was talking about and I said "Oooh, I could do that!"
  When you're 18, 19, 20 years old, you think you are invincible and you think you can do everything. Thank God I had the background with my family -- musically and business wise -- growing up. That's basically how the ball started and it turned into a bidding war with MCA Records, where I ultimately ended up. Then, I had to tell Prince I was leaving. That was not fun.
  It's such a whirlwind when you're in the middle of it. You have no idea. It was tramatic. My own family said "Are you sure you want to do this? Are you crazy?"

  Paul Peterson on recording the song "Feline" : (I was) trying to learn how to rap, I don't even know if they called it that then. I still remember that rap to this day for some reason. (Singing lyrics) "Feline, get my body working..."
  It was funky, it was nasty and I was worried about what my mom would think. (Laughs). You know, (Prince) never talked to me about what the plan was (for that song). He and I didn't communicate on that level. That was his baby. So, I can't say for sure.

  I've never understood racism, because, a lot (of the time), in music, there really are no racial lines. I was talking with Sinbad about this the other day. Maybe I am just oblivious, but, I've been playing Black music my entire life. I've been accepted in that scene, maybe, because, the culture of musicians are very inclusive. When I see stupid shit that people do to each other, it just baffles me.
  It may happen in the music business, but, I believe it's way less prevalent. You're also talking to a Caucasian here who could be absolutely oblivious to it. But, as far as I see, where I'm coming from, it's all about the conversation, the musicality and experience through your instrument.

  fdeluxe was always funky. No matter if you're talking about the first record or the second record. Nobody expected us to remain friends for 30 years and want to come together to create new music. We ignored it for a while. We did a couple of reunions, with Sheila E. and ?uestlove, (but), the stars were not aligned to take it to the next level. But, when we finally did this thing with ?uestlove, Susannah and I looked at each other. We spent the next four years making that record (Gaslight).
  We laughed, we had a great time and we had to find a groove with each other. You know, I'm not surprised we're still making music today and we'll continue to make music into the future.

  The key to songwriting is playing chords that mean something to you: that do something to your soul; that have an emotional attachment; that you can put into a phrase for some wordsmith to put their craft on top of.
  I've always been a way better music writer than a lyric writer. I feel my strength is in harmony and melody. I've been going back to my idols and listening to all this music. I was listening to Steely Dan on the way up here: all the musicality, arrangements (and) all the best of the best. That moves me.
  As long as something is moving me, I know I'm doing something right. I believe in it. I don't just phone it in.

  Our upcoming concerts are going to be great. I can't wait to see my friends again and play some music with them. We have such a great time. It's really all about the hang and the music. It's so fun to see our fans. We know that they're out there. We know that they've been waiting to see us.
  We never had an opportunity to tour as (the first incarnation of fDeluxe); now we're trying to make up for lost time. We always involve our fans (and) we're excited to see them; excited to bring the old music and new music to them. Its gonna be rocking.

  The key to hard.You have to bring it. You cannot half ass it. You have to always be 110 percent. Bring it every time and believe in what you're doing. Otherwise, don't waste your time. And practice. It's no mystery how people are successful. Work at it.

  Working with Donny Osmond...what a blast! One of my favorite people on the planet. You want to talk about a hard-working guy? He is everything I just described. The guy never stops.
  He's an incredible engineer. He can wire a studio. The guy wins "Dancing with the Stars," because, he's so freaking competitive. He doesn't want anyone to beat him-- probably because he's the little brother.
  We had a blast with each other. I warped the poor guy. He has this reputation for being the sweetest little man ever. Of course, I completely warped him. (Laughs). I mean, nothing bad or anything, but, we had fun. We traveled the world together.
  When I was doing my second record (Down to the Wire), his producers ended up producing my record. They were finishing up his record when we were having some meetings. Donny and I saw each other... and it was just such a connection. We were laughing just like little brothers. It was just weird.
  He is an incrediby gifted man. He really is. Good people. Probably the most unaffected rock star I've ever worked with.

  It's been hard gathering the members of fDeluxe to finish a record in a timely fashion. It is very difficult, because, everybody's busy.

  The Carnegie Hall I think that's all I have to say about that. One of those life moments you never forget. We rocked them pretty hard. I'll never forget that.
  When we were done playing the songs everybody (in the audience) stood up. I was busy trying to wrap up my bass and get off stage. Wendy Melvoin grabbed my arm and said "Stop. Look out there. That's for you. Drink it in." I owe her a lot for that. She really made me look and take that in, you know?
  We've worked a lot of years to get to a point like that. So, it was pretty incredible to be recognized like that.

  The things that matter are what I'm doing right now: hanging with my family; being good to your kids, good to your mate, spending time, being good to one another. That's the most important stuff on the planet. Peace and love, man. I'm a '60s baby, aren't I? (Laughs). That's true, though.

  Down to the Wire and Blue Cadillac ...two very different records, but, great records. I'm proud of both of them.
  (Down to the Wire) is a little more pop-rock, which was an area that I was encouraged to go by my managers and my record company. I loved the record, but, it wasn't necessarily my M.O. I was blue-eyed soul, if that's what you're going to call it. It was a departure for me, it was an exploration.
  I think that they were taking a risk on alienating my fans and finding new ones. I was trying to take the advice of people who were very successful. It's not a bad record. I love every song on there. It's just another side of me. I think that record is very well crafted... There wasn't a lot of rock-and-roll guitar and straight ahead pop stuff going on in my earlier records.
  Blue Cadillac came back and was kind of funky. That was me going back in the other direction.

  In a family full of musicians...I got the best of every possible portion of that. Being the youngest was the greatest education of my life. Competition? Yes. But, competition, because, they wanted me to be better. Competition, because, they wanted me to be great and do great things.
  Being in a family full of musicians means you play together, you spend Christmas together and you do gigs together. You hang out with each other. You could be on tour busses together.
  I got to tour with my brothers in The Steve Miller Band, with me playing rock guitar. We were all on the bus together. It was incredible. My nephew and I toured with Oleta Adams and Donny Osmond. My brother, Ricky Peterson, and I toured with David Sanborn. I've done countless records with them all in different points in time. It's been an incredible ride and a blessing.

   Recording the first fDeluxe album (Gaslight) was an exploration to see what we'd come up with. It was an experimentation. It was the culmination of our life experiences and musical experiences in the songs that you hear.
  Susannah Melvoin and I wrote the bulk of that record. We had not ever written a song together. We had to find our groove and it took a minute to do that. We love other and we fought like cats and dogs...We made each other make a better record than we would have done (individually). That's what being a band is: you make each other better. That's what I think we do.
  It took four years, because, I was on tour most of the time. But, (it is) a great record. I'm so proud of it.

  If I could change...I wouldn't change anything. Everything I've gone through has made me who I am. I like who I am.
  I wish I could change that my mom wasn't more famous. She was pretty famous back home, but, she was a world-class pianist.  Nothing for me. I'm cool. I've done as much as I could ever want to do. I ain't done yet, either. Plenty more to come. (Speaking in a deep voice) Stay tuned...

  Click below for more information on upcoming fDeluxe shows:
  7 p.m. and 9 p.m., August 23, Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis

  To make a pledge toward fDeluxe's Underneath the Covers album, click here.

  Stay Beautiful, Kristi


  Like us on Facebook: Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s and Beautiful Nights.

05 August 2013

The Rest of My Life: Gayle Chapman Talks About Events After Prince

 Gayle Chapman has no regrets about her time out of the spotlight.
 Chapman, a keyboard player in Prince's first touring band, worked with the artist for two years before she left the band in 1980.
This was only a few years into The Purple One's evolution into a musical icon and before he released a string of wildly popular albums that began with 1999 (1982), accelerated with Purple Rain (1984) and lasted well into the 1990s.
  Chapman has been active in the music scene in Boise, Idaho, where she has lived for more than 25 years. She is bringing her act to Washington and headline an upcoming show at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at The Mix, 6004 12th Ave. S., Seattle, with special guests Old Blue and Clayton Ballard. She will play original music, as well as three songs from the unreleased album "The Rebels" (1979), recorded during her time with Prince: "If I Love You Tonight, "You" and "Lovin' You."
  Dyes conducted an interview with Chapman last month, by both phone and e-mail, where the musician discussed why it was hard to leave Prince's band, trying to make a living in New York City in the 1980s and her upcoming album:

  ?: How did you get into Prince's first touring band?
  GC: I was standing in my living room and I was listening to Prince's record (For You), full blast. I was home alone and this still, small voice shot through my mind. (It was) just like an arch from above that went through my head and back out again. It said “In order to tour, he's going to need a band.” 
  I turned off the music and looked around. God had spoken to me. (Laughs). I'm not kidding. I mean it was wonderful and spooky at the same time, because, I was home alone and I heard a voice. I was in pursuit of what it would take to be in (his) band from that moment on. 
  I auditioned (for Prince) and didn't hear from him for three months. One day, I was in my apartment, in bed and it was probably noon. The phone rang. I wasn't expecting a call from Prince. He said “Gayle, this Prince. What are you doing?” I said “Oh, hi. How are you?” He said “I'm good. Can you make it to rehearsal?” I didn't have to think about it at all. I said “Where is it?” and he told me where it was. I said “Yeah, what time?” He said “1 p.m.” It was noon. I was 45 minutes away, had to load all my gear and get dressed. I made it there in probably 35 minutes. (Laughs).
  I had the thought (to be in Prince's band). I went after it and then, I waited. And waited. I basically gave up. Then, the phone rang. I think what happened in the meantime was that he hired Linda Anderson (Andre Cymone's sister). She was there before I was, but, I didn't know about that until last year. 
  At one point, in my own frustration in working with him, I asked (Prince) “Why did you hire me?” He said “You have blond hair, blue eyes and you can sing. You're the funkiest white chick I've ever met.” I guess that's a compliment. I'll take it. I'm hard pressed to believe that now, because, there are a lot of funky white chicks out there. 
  ?: Do you remember the moment when you decided to leave Prince's band?
  GC: Do I remember the moment? No, I don't. What was I thinking? God only knows! I realized that I wasn't growing and I needed more. That's about the sum of it...I was in Prince's world and if I stayed, that's where my growth and energies would be and I wanted more.   (People) always ask me “Did you leave, because, of Dirty Mind?” I'd like to roll my eyes and say “No, it wasn't my Dirty Mind, it was his.” Yes, I did tell him that I did not want to sing that song (“Head”) but, I sang “You.” So, what? (Singing lyrics) “You get so hard I don't know what to do.” How stupid was I? “Take your pants off!” (Laughs). No, I really digress...
  I don't know if it was the mother instinct, because, it didn't feel like that. But, I wasn't growing. I was in a band, touring and it was the most fun I had in a long time... But, I needed more and I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I just knew I had to go.
  I look back now and I probably would have been wise to stay another couple of years. I could have hung in there. But, I needed to grow. So, I left. And now I wax poetic...
  ?: How did you tell Prince that you were leaving?
  GC: We met at his house. He lived on Orono Bay on Lake Minnetonka. I told him I needed to talk to him, because, I was thinking about leaving (the band). I asked if would he have time to sit down with me. He said yes. I lived about a mile and a half down the road from him in a cabin on a resort.  I went over and we sat and talked. He wasn't happy that this white chick was leaving. The last thing he ever said to me was “Gayle, if you ever need my help, you just let me know.” 
  ?: When you decided to move on was it a tough decision for you?
  GC: It was a very difficult decision to leave. It was a job. If I was going to have “jobs” the rest of my life, there were jobs where I could make a lot more money. I just happened to like that one a lot. That's why it was such a tough decision. The perks were amazing. 
  The perks of working with Prince were that you were paid, whether you performed or not, because, you had to be kept on the payroll. You would continue to practice and rehearse. When Prince got back from L.A. and said “We're rehearsing,” you would rehearse. That would be it. 
  I flew (on an airplane) every time I traveled and had my own hotel room. There were drivers that would pick me up and take me wherever I needed to go... It was the beginning of what I thought stardom was like. It was work, yeah, but, it was fun. It was attention getting. How many people would show up to a record store to do an interview dressed in their rock-and-roll gear and hop out of a limo. That was me. It's like that to this day. Maybe they show up in minivans, I don't know. 
  There was notoriety. There was flamboyance. There were perks. You could go out and eat wherever you wanted, because, there was always money to do that if you wanted to. It wasn't a lot of money, but, it what was you needed to get by. They would have a microwave in my hotel room and instead of spending my money that way, I would go to a grocery store and buy a frozen dinner or something. 
  Two hundred fifty dollars was more than I had (previously) made in a week. But, it wasn't a lot of money. I just saw that if that was the (salary) cap on what I was doing... I knew that I needed the opportunity to do more and make more (money) if I was going to live the way I wanted to. 
  I have learned, over the years, that it doesn't matter how much money you make, if you have bad habits, you're never going to have any (money). So, you learn to change your habits with what you do with money. You can make $55,000 or $100,000 a year, (but), if you manage your own money wrong, shame on you!

Courtesy of

  Gayle Chapman on being an “employed” musician: I think people romanticize how much (money) rock stars make. It's a business like anything else. Unless you're the “star,” you're not going to make as much money. That's the way it is. 

  They're going to pay you a wage and take care of you, because, you signed on willingly for what you're getting to be there. So, to complain about it is stupid. When you agree to take a job and they offer you a wage, if you're not happy with it, you have say so up front. Otherwise, you're stuck getting that ... If you're not happy, you shouldn't stay. In the negotiation process, some people really aren't happy, but, they stay anyway.
  I was happy, because, I didn't have to be a maid in a hotel or a waitress in a cafe. That just wasn't in the cards for me. I had to work with a rock star or look like one. 

  ?: When you quit, did you leave the band right away?
  GC: I offered to stay on for a while, (because), he had to take time to go find somebody. He said to me, when he found Lisa, “She's amazing, she can play her ass off, but, she can't sing like you.” I think there was a tug of war there. But, it was what it was. I can't say that I have any regrets, about being there or leaving. I just knew it was time to go. 
  ?: What did you do after you left the band? Where did you go?
  GC: I left in April or May (of 1980). I went to a big festival that August called Rock of Ages in New Knoxville, Ohio. It was part of The Way International (a religious organization that Chapman was a member of at the time). It was a big festival held specially for their outgoing and returning ambassadors.  It was an annual event where 20,000 to 30,000 people came from all over the world and spent a week (together). I went to the Rock of Ages every year. It was amazing...they don't do it anymore. I just found that out. 
  I met all kinds of amazing musicians there. I met David Girabaldi, Tower of Power's drummer. Nice guy. Really good looking. Amazing drummer. I also met (the late) Skip Mesquite, who was also with Tower of Power for a while. I met them before (leaving Prince's band). We used to sit down and talk about going on the road: what it was about and things that would happen. When I told them I was going to be working with Prince, they advised me on ways to keep my sanity on the road, since they had been at it for so long by that time. I was really glad to have them there. 
  After that, I lived in New York City for three years. I “grew” there. 
  ? Did you try to get a recording contract when you moved to New York?
  GC: I learned right away that New York was a different bear. They couldn't have cared less who I had played music with. They would say “Who?” After I left Prince, nobody in New York City knew who he was (then). Then he came and did a concert at the Union Square Theater.
  I went to that one. Morris Day and the Time opened the show. That was my only meeting with Jellybean Johnson and Jimmy Jam. I looked at Day on the stage and said “Wow. That's not the Morris I knew.” When I knew him, (He) was this freckled, light-skinned guy with this big Afro, just like Prince had, and was so shy he could barely carry on a conversation with you—at least that's what it seemed like. Either that or he was just shy around girls.
  He basically was a changed person. Prince taught him everything and brought this character out in him. It was pretty amazing to watch. I literally sat there with the sound guy at the front of the house and my jaw was down like “What? Whoa!”
  I talked to Prince and the band for a little bit. This was the first time they came to New York. They were all growing with the things they were doing. I was living in New York City by myself. I don't know what I was doing. I was a kid. I probably should have gone back to school, but, I didn't. 
  Prince came back the next year, or a couple years later, and played Radio City Music Hall.There was a girl, Marci Kenon, who was a teenager (at the time) and had been babysitting for Diana Ross. She loved Prince. She knew about me, found me, got my number and called me up. God only knows how back then. She had been writing some songs.
  She called me before that (Radio City Music Hall) concert. She wanted to know if I was going and if I could get her in. I said “Well, actually, I'm not going.” She wanted to know why. I said “Because, I can't afford the tickets.” There was just stunned silence from a teenager on the other end of the phone. I said, “You know, I work as a secretary, I'm not in the rock-and-roll business working with famous people.” She said “Oh. Well, are you still doing any music at all?” I said yes. She asked if I would help her with what she was working on. I told her I would be happy to. 
  She came over and... I said “Here's how you're going to get in to the concert: You're going to back of the building, wherever that is, and ask for these people. I had no idea about anything at Radio City Music Hall. Nothing. Except that I had been there to watch The Rockettes and that was really fun.
  I didn't go to the Prince concert. But, she went and mentioned all the names I gave her and they let her in. She got to meet the band—Prince, Dez (DIckerson), Cymone, Matt (Fink)-- and they said to her “Who? Gayle Chapman? We thought she was dead. We haven't heard from her at all.” I (later) said “Oh, that's good. At least they're thinking of me.” (Laughs).

  ?: How did you react when record companies were not more enthusiastic about signing you when you first moved to New York?
  GC: In my mind, I was just the first to quit his first band and I had to get work. So, I did.
  ?: What did you end up doing?
  GC: I got to New York City and I had to get a job. I was a cashier and a waitress at the Union Circle Cafe for a while. I later got hired as the cleaning woman at the Cardio Pulmonary Rehab Corporation. Their receptionist wasn't there one day and the phone was ringing. The manager looked at me and said “Our receptionist quit. Can you answer the phone?” I said “Sure.” (Mimics speaking on telephone) “C.P. Rehab Corporation. This is Gayle. How may I direct your call?”  She just looked at me and said “You need a job.” So, I got a job. 
  I went from being the cleaning woman to part-time receptionist while they found somebody. They never did, so, they just kept me. When the office was moved, I moved with it. I became the executive secretary to the president (of the company). I didn't get paid very much. I worked my way up from cleaning woman. Why should they pay me very much? When I left, I think I was making $10.40 a hour.
  What got me out of there was the company's Chief Financial Officer, who was three years older than me, making $44,000 a year and still lived at home. 
  We were all working overtime one night, because, we had to get the yearly prospectus out. I had to do all that typing. I had to type anything that anyone gave me, get it done and be accurate. I was able to do that. 
  I can't remember what started it, but, he came up and made some remark to me (and) I questioned why he said it to me. I think it was something absolutely derogatory and one thing lead to another. I looked at him and said “Look. You're 28 years old, you make $44,000 a year and you live at home. You have the gall to tell me that?” And I just went back to work.
The next thing you know I was on my way out the door. 
  He started it, I finished it. That was pretty much it. To this day, I'll never understand people who do things like that. They make a lot of money, but, they can't get out of their mother's basement? I'd be happy to make $44,000 a year now. To be honest, the most I ever made was $55,000 a year and that's when I was flipping houses (in Bosie, Idaho). I did that for a year. I worked with a broker and one of her agents. We (made) just under $500,000 in one year. I want to get back to it, I just have to find people who want to do that.
  ?:Why did you leave New York?
  GC: I grew up in nature in Minnesota and there is very little nature in New York City. I was very tired of concrete and missed trees. (There was) a lot of consumption going on there. That was when I went into training in The Way Corps.
  ?: In what capacity did you continue to work with The Way after you left Prince's band? Are you currently a member of that organization?
  GC:  I joined the 15th Way Corps leadership training program and stayed with them another five years before leaving. I was married when I graduated. My husband and I moved to Pocatello, Idaho and served there for a while. (We) later moved to Boise, Idaho where we finally parted ways with the ministry and each other. I am not currently a member of that organization.
  ?: You were always known for being a very spiritual person during your time with Prince. What part have your beliefs played in your life since you have been out of the spotlight?
  GC: I really don't know what folks thought of me then, but, I was definitely a practicing Christian believer in "grow mode.” As with any endeavor in life, if you believe (in) it, you will maintain basics and grow throughout your life. I have never stopped loving God, His word or the power that is in the name of Jesus Christ. 
  I do not consider myself religious, and I'm certainly not pious. But, I do believe actions speak louder than words. I use every opportunity that arises to help others-- spiritually, through music, or sharing wisdom from my own personal growth. One of my favorite quotes from a minister was "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day!"
  ?: What do you do to stay active on the music scene in Boise?
  GC: I work with lots of musicians, teach a lot of students, and keep my fingers in the pie by writing. I have occasionally had the opportunity to write with some famous people. I hope to get back on the road and gain more insight for writing, arranging and recording. I love it, (but), I need at least one to three other musicians to work and travel with to complete my vision.
  ?: Tell me about your self-titled album? What was the process like?
  GC: (My) self-titled album (released in 2003) was my third recording project for myself. The first was called Standard Laments, and although it was finished, it was never released. I still have it stuck on 1/2-inch 16-track recording tape. It's probably no good now, but, if anyone out there wants to help, who has the right equipment, get in touch with me.
  The second was Change of Direction in 1993 (recorded by Black Diamond, an acoustic duo Chapman formed with Lyricist and Folk Guitarist Jan Skurzynski). We worked for seven years playing locally and occasionally touring Idaho and the country playing festivals. (We later) parted ways. 
  My self- titled album was a process of sifting through musicians here in town to see who would actually do the work required in the studio. It took lots of time and money to get it done.   The first time I tried, I traveled to Hailey, Idaho to record in Big Wood Studios, with Bruce Innes engineering. Unfortunately, he ripped me off, along with a bunch of other people.
  I had to start all over in Boise, Idaho at Audio Lab Sound Recording, run by Steve Fulton. It was finished, but, not without more headaches in the process-- like musicians showing up to the studio unprepared and still wanting to get paid. However, most (musicians) learned the material, and did a great job. I was very thankful for the work everyone did at the studio.
  ?: What will your new album be like?
  GC: I started the new album last April with a guy named Robb Howell, of Robb Howell Music and RH Peace Machine, a great writer and engineer with four gold records. (He) has worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Frank Marino, and lots of others, but, I had to fire him. I didn't figure it out until late in the process that a lot of damage had been done.
  I have this great start of fantastic tracks that I'm in the process of musically replicating. (The album) has the “harder” edge I've always wanted, and I'm staying with the feel of it. The new CD will have lots of new and different stuff, but, it won't come out until I'm satisfied with it.
  ?: What are you most looking forward to as far as the show is concerned?
  GC: The show is my birthday present this year. Life is happening all around me, so, I will be as prepared as possible, given the circumstances. I'm very busy making a living and this is lots of extra work, but, a real kicker for me. I want to do well and I believe I will. Even though I can't bring the guys (Sam Lay and Jake Monroe, two of her music students) I was working with, because, they are underage, I will still have fun. I want people to come with an open mind and enjoy the evening. I will give it my all.
  ?: What do you hope for in the next five years?
  GC: I am looking forward to doing more out-of-state shows, fundraisers, house and theater concerts, working with musicians across the country and going to Europe.
I have no interest in remaining a local musician. It just doesn't offer me enough and I need to be working with professionals on a higher level. I want to retire from teaching and focus on writing, arranging, producing, recording and touring. Life is too short to just live for making a buck. You have to do what you love (and) hopefully you make the money you want as well. 

Stay Beautiful, Kristi


All photos courtesy of Gayle Chapman except where listed.


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