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Prince - Diamonds and Pearls
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Diamonds and Pearls
New Power Generation and Prince

Lyrics
This will be the day
That you will hear me say
That I will never run away

I am here for you
Love is meant for two
Now tell me what you're gonna do

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world

Which one of us is right
If we always fight
Why can't we just let love decide
(let love decide)

Am I the weaker man
Because I understand
That love must be the master plan
(love is the master plan)

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
All I can do is just offer you my love

D to the I to the A to the M
O to the N to the D to the pearls of love
D to the I to the A to the M (to the M)
O to the N to the D to the pearls of love

There will come a time
(there will come a time)
When love will blow your mind
(blow your mind)
And everything you'll look for you'll find
(take a look inside)

That will be the time
(that will be the time)
That everything will shine (forever)
So bright it makes you colorblind
(you will be color blind)

If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
All I can do is just offer you my love

If I gave you diamonds and pearls (pearls)
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
(yeah yeah)
If I could I would give you the world
(give you the world)
All I can do is just offer you my love
(all I can do)

If I gave you diamonds and pearls (diamonds)
Would you be, would you, would you
(Would ya, would ya, would ya be happy little baby)
If I could I would give you the world

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Lori Elle & Robia LaMorte

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I wasn’t supposed to be Prince’s muse. He always liked to find a female muse for every season of his work, and for the album Diamonds and Pearls the word was that he was looking for a set of identical twins. I’m not a twin, so that didn’t seem on the cards for me. I went along to audition as a back-up dancer for the Cream video. It just so happened that another dancer who auditioned, Lori Elle, looked a bit like me. When Prince saw us together he decided that we could work as the twins. With that a one-week job became two years of my life.

On the first day of rehearsals it was just Lori and me. We were stretching and hanging out. I remember looking up in the mirror and there was Prince standing in the doorway. It was like one of those slow-motion moments, when you feel smoke is filling the room and I was wishing I was in a more elegant pose! It was surreal. I grew up on Purple Rain, I watched that movie over and over again, and here was Prince in the flesh. At that time the biggest stars were Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. After that first day he decided that Lori would be Diamond and I would be Pearl and we would be fixtures of the entire process.

We shot the Cream video and then Gett Off, Strollin’ and Diamonds and Pearls. He had us pose for the album cover, which was amazing, and then it got really crazy. Around this time Prince changed his name to Prince's symbol, and decided he wouldn’t speak directly to the media. So we became his voice – every question he was asked, we would answer. We did all the press, the talk shows, the radio, the magazines… all channelling Prince. We used to have mock interviews where we would learn the ropes and find out what Prince would want us to highlight. He loved us to play up about the nature of our relationship with one another and with Prince. He was so mischievous and loved the speculation about what was going on between the three of us.

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"He had us pose for the album cover, which was amazing, and then it got really crazy”

The only bit of negative feedback I can remember is when people asked “What’s your favourite song?”, I would say Purple Rain, because it really was my favourite song. He took me aside after an interview and said, “Everyone says that. Can’t you find something a bit more obscure, a bit more interesting?” I said, “OK, I’ll work on that,” but it always came back to Purple Rain.

Despite what everyone thought of him at the time, with the name change and everything, he was really easy going. We spent so much time together socially it was easy to forget that he was this incredible artist. It was pretty extraordinary to walk on stage and be in front of 60,000 people, but even more amazing was when you looked to the side. The calm, playful guy you’d been goofing around with that afternoon was suddenly Prince! I’d gotten so familiar with him, I’d forgotten he was the biggest pop star on the planet. Night after night he was always incredible, always so fresh and always so powerful.

When he’d play for us away from the stage it was really special. We’d be at his home in Paisley Park and he’d just jump on the piano and start composing – these beautiful melodies just poured out of him. I remember him sharing with me that he felt he could never relax because he knew that at any time he could sit down and create something that could be his next masterpiece. How can you slob out and watch television all afternoon, when you could be creating something amazing?

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One of the most revealing conversations we ever had was about clothes. He always wanted me to dress like a superstar, and I preferred jeans and a T-shirt. I, in turn, ribbed him for always being dressed to the nines in his signature suit: fitted jacket, slim trousers and high-heeled boots. No matter when I saw him, day or night, he was wearing his “uniform”. I chided him, “When am I going to see you in jeans or sweatpants?” “Never,” he replied. He spoke of growing up poor and how difficult it was for him to have nothing. He divulged a vow he made to himself as a young boy that one day, when he had money, he would never wear shabby clothes again but always dress like a star. It was a moment of connection between us that I did not quite know what to do with at 20 years old.

Prince was a very spiritual person, as was I, but we never really spoke about it. It was later that he became a Jehovah’s Witness and I also became a Christian. I always thought that we would reconnect at a different stage in life when God had become much more prominent in his life and my life. I always believed that somewhere down the line our paths would cross and we could talk about the crazy journey we took to get there, but unfortunately that did not happen.

Looking back on that period now I am very proud of that time. When people hear I’m a Christian they expect me to have seen the light or regret my time with Prince or the videos we made, but that’s not how I look back on it. I believe God made us to enjoy ourselves. To sing, to dance and to produce beautiful things. I don’t think it’s godly to be impoverished and to suffer. And Prince certainly knew how to enjoy himself.

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Welcome to the New Power Generation

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The New Power Generation, also known as The NPG, is a band assembled by Prince in late 1990 in order to back him up during his live appearances. After disbanding The Revolution, Prince had been using a live backing band on tours from 1987 to 1990 that did not have a name as such. Following the 1990 Nude Tour, Prince first started referring to his band as "The New Power Generation", a term first used in the song, "No".

Meet the Band!

Rosie Gaines
Keyboards and Backing Vocals

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Keyboardist and vocalist Rosie Gaines was once in a band with Prince’s guitarist/bassist Levi Seacer Jr., who called her in 1990 and asked if she’d fly from California to Minnesota to sing on a demo. When Prince heard Gaines, he asked her to join his band, which soon became the New Power Generation.

She began her musical career in the 1980s by participating in various bands ("Unity", "A Touch Of Class" and "The Oasis") between her hometown and Oakland, California. She joined a band lead by Curtis Ohlson (former bass player of Ray Charles and Buddy Rich, with whom she was married for two years), in which Levi Seacer, Jr. also performed as a guitarist.

In Pittsburg, Rosie Gaines played and became an attraction at local venues as Earle’s Solano Club, Yoshi’s and the Great American Music Hall.

In December 1989, while working on the Pointer Sisters' Right Rhythm album at Paisley Park, Levi Seacer, Jr. called Rosie to put her voice on a title written by Prince for the group: I Want U. This song was not retained for Right Rhythm, released in 1990, half-produced by Levi Seacer, Jr. but Prince, having attended the session, was overwhelmed by Rosie’s voice. He invited her to put her vocals on the songs New Power Generation, Diamonds And Pearls as well as songs intended for Elisa Fiorillo's I Am album.

He also asked Rosie to join his new band in anticipation of his upcoming Nude Tour, as a replacement for Boni Boyer, whom left the band following the Lovesexy Tour. Subsequently she also appeared in the film Graffiti Bridge as a band member.

During the Nude Tour, Rosie showed her vocal abilities on many songs ranging from rhythm and blues to rap. A few weeks after the end of the Nude Tour, Rosie opened Prince's nightclub, the Glam Slam, with a first of three concerts in October 1990.

Diamonds And Pearls album was released in October 1991, the first credited to Prince & The New Power Generation : Rosie Gaines was highlighted on more than of the album with her singing, rapping and co-writing. She was given an prominent role the singles videos and during the tour that followed.

Levi Seacer, Jr.
Guitar

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Guitarist/bassist Levi Seacer Jr. was working with Sheila E. when Prince began to put together his first post-Revolution band. Seacer became the group’s bass player until 1991, when he switched to guitar as a founding member of the New Power Generation.

Levi had been a member of Sheila E’s band at the time he was tapped by Prince to join his band and go out on the 1987 Sign O’ the Times tour as the bassist – and background vocalist – with Sheila E as the drummer. Levi later collaborated with Prince on several songs for the film, Graffiti Bridge. He was a founding member of the NPG and, with the addition of Sonny Thompson, Levi switched to guitar duties.

He started playing guitar at the ripe age of 6, under direction of his Grandmother, who was a pastor at a Church and wanted an Electric Gospel sound as the musical canvas. As a young guitarist, Levi caught the ear of the late great, "Don Cornelius,” pioneer of the hit dance show, "Soul Train." Levi credits Don with helping to maneuver through the music industry and, as a result, landing a spoot in Sheila E’s band. Regarding his work on Alphabet Street for Prince’s Lovesexy album, Rolling Stone wrote that the “jagged funk guitars and Levi Seacer Jr.'s bouncing bass line combine with Prince's street-corner cool for a track that sounded absolutely bracing in the increasingly cacophonous context of late-Eighties pop radio.”

Michael Bland
Drums

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Minneapolis native, Michael Bland, like so many other outstanding drummers, started taking piano lessons at age 6 due to the direction of his musical mother and sisters. One year later he began taking lessons on the baritone horn, but fortunately, drums entered his life at 9. As his drum playing progressed he joined his church's band.

Around age 14, Michael decided to take drums seriously, and his practice and dedication paid off when two years later he won the "Twin Cities" Best Drummer contest. After the contest, local musicians took notice and he began playing with Hiram Bullock. A few years have passed and we find him in the drum chair gigging with Dr. Mambo's Combo in a local club where the budding Twin Cities "soon to be stars" performed. Enter another Minneapolis artist, Prince. After hearing Michael's percussion work, Prince asked him to join the New Power Generation. Michael was 19 and on his way. Michael took over on drums after Sheila E. left Prince’s band in 1989.

Tommy Barbarella
Keyboards

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Like Sonny T. and Michael B., long-haired keyboardist Tommy Barbarella (born Thomas Elm) was in Prince’s New Power Generation from its 1991 founding.

After watching and listening to Tommy playing with one of his favorite local bands, The Steeles, Prince asked him to join his newly formed New Power Generation. But he had no idea that Prince gave him a new name (instead of Tommy Elm, he became “Tommy Barbarella”) until he was called this in a local newspaper.

It took a call from his mom for Tommy Elm to find out his new boss had renamed him. “There’s a picture in the Pioneer Press of Prince and some guys,” she said. “One of them looks like you, but it isn’t your name.” His Prince-given name, she revealed, was Tommy Barbarella. He tells the story from a recording studio in the south Minneapolis home he shares with his wife and two daughters in what he calls his “second life”—the one after the one with Prince. Surrounded by memorabilia from his Paisley era and a poster of the 1968 Jane Fonda flick that inspired his stage name, the keyboardist for The New Power Generation says he wasn’t a Prince fan until he saw Purple Rain in theaters in high school in 1984. By the time he was 22 he was playing with The Steeles to audiences that often included Prince and Kim Basinger, and he was hearing whispers that Prince had his eye on him

Sonny T.
Bass

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With the founding of Prince’s New Power Generation, Levi Seacer Jr. moved from bass to guitar, leaving the slot open for Sonny T. (born Lloyd Thompson). The bassist actually knew Prince before he was famous in the late ’70s, long before taking a role in the New Power Generation from 1991-96.

Well known to those in Prince’s world is the fact that Sonny taught Prince how to play bass.  When Prince first put the NPG together, he personally drafted a press release for his new publicist that stated, “Also new in the band is Prince’s musical idol, Sonny T.  Sonny served as a role model for Prince growing up in North Minneapolis.  Self-taught – Sonny can play or sing anything he hears – soul, jazz, classical – anything!  Sonny plays bass in the N.P.G. although he doubles on every other instrument.” 

Tony M.
Kirk Johnson
Damon Dickson

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Prince - Diamonds and Pearls
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