TIR 79: When Gayle Chapman Was One of Prince’s Loyal Subjects


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 79 (2 Parts): Keyboardist-guitarist-singer-composer Gayle Chapman, who was among the very first band members Prince auditioned and hired back in 1978, following the release of his debut album, For You. As the only female group member, she toured with Prince into 1980. The band, which was the precursor to The Revolution, also included Andre Cymone, Dez Dickerson, Matt “Dr.” Fink and Bobby Z. These were important foundational years for Prince when he also released his self-titled sophomore album and the sexually charged and controversial Dirty Mind. Notable tracks from the period included “Soft and Wet,” “Just as Long as We’re Together,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad,” “I Feel for You,” “Bambi,” “Sexy Dancer,” “Uptown,” “When U Were Mine” and “Head.”

It was performing the final song that led to Chapman leaving the group as she felt uncomfortable with its sexually explicit language and theme. Before that took place, though, the lineup that included Chapman cut an unreleased studio project under the moniker of The Rebels in 1979. Two songs from those sessions were eventually released in re-recorded versions, “You,” by Paula Abdul, and “If I Love U Tonite,” by Mica Paris and later Prince’s wife, Mayte Garcia.

Chapman was replaced in Prince’s lineup by Lisa Coleman and went on to a lifetime mostly outside the mainstream music industry. She did continue writing and teaching music, as well as working with some other artists, and in 2003 released a self-titled, folk music-flavored album.

In this extensive interview, Chapman talks about being chosen by and working with one of the most creative forces music has ever known; stories from the road such as french-kissing on stage, sharing a bill with Rick James and appearing on American Bandstand; how and why she left Prince’s group before he rose to superstardom; what she did in the aftermath; how news of his death impacted her; and her current musical reawakening. So without further adieu, let’s travel back to a hard-to-fathom time when most of the world was still yet unaware of how a diminutive Minneapolis genius would forever change the face of music — and the classically trained white girl from neighboring Duluth, who would help send him on his way.