Prince formed The Revolution in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 as his backing band for his first concert tour. The original lineup consisted of Gayle Chapman on keyboards, André Cymone on bass, Dez Dickerson on guitar, Doctor Fink on keyboards and Bobby Z. on drums & percussion.
The band went nameless for almost three years while supporting Prince live and appearing in his music videos. Chapman and Cymone left in the early 1980's and were replaced by Lisa Coleman on keyboards and Brownmark on bass. The first album on which The Revolution performed was the 1982 Prince release, 1999, which has the band's moniker written in reverse on the back cover.
When the 1999 Tour ended in 1983, Dez Dickerson left the band for religious reasons and was replaced by Lisa's childhood friend and soon-to-be lover Wendy Melvoin on guitar. The first album officially released as Prince & The Revolution was Purple Rain in 1984, which sold over 16 million copies in the United States alone.
The band's sound incorporated heavy metal, pop, funk, R&B and hard rock elements. Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman formed a particular creative bond with Prince and greatly influenced the band's output during the rest of their tenure. The band achieved two number-one Billboard 200 albums (Purple Rain & Around The World In A Day), six top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and won three Grammy Awards.
In 1985, members of the soon-to-be-defunct group The Family (which, in turn, included former members of another group, The Time) joined The Revolution, along with people from Sheila E.'s band. This included the addition of three dancers/vocalists/comic foils (known as The Bodyguards).
The last lineup of Prince & the Revolution was informally known as the Counter-Revolution and consisted of:
- Jerome Benton (The Bodyguards)
- Atlanta Bliss (trumpet)
- Greg Brooks (The Bodyguards)
- Lisa Coleman (keyboards, piano and vocals)
- Doctor Fink (keyboards and vocals)
- Eric Leeds (saxophone)
- Brown Mark (bass guitar and vocals)
- Susannah Melvoin (backing vocals)
- Wendy Melvoin (guitar and vocals)
- Prince (lead vocals, guitar, and piano)
- Wally Safford (The Bodyguards)
- Miko Weaver (guitar)
- Bobby Z. (drums)
The Revolution was officially disbanded by Prince in 1986 after the Hit N Run tour, which supported Parade, the soundtrack for the movie Under the Cherry Moon. Melvoin and Coleman went on to a successful career as Wendy & Lisa.