Above: NPG keyboardist Morris Hayes, top left, will lead the band on tour. He was photographed with Stevie Wonder at the Prince Tribute Concert at Xcel Energy Center in October, 2016. (Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune)
The Revolution has booked a tour, and now the NPG, featuring some of Prince’s other former band members, has announced its intention to tour.
Keyboardist Morris Hayes will lead the band, he tells Billboard.com in an exclusive interview. The group will include such 1990s and ‘00s Prince players as guitarist Levi Seacer Jr., drummer Kirk Johnson, keyboardist Tommy Barbarella and singers Kip Blackshire and Marva King plus early collaborator Andre Cymone, who worked with Prince before the Revolution.
Bassist Sonny Thompson, drummer Michael Bland and singer Shelby J also will participate, depending on their schedules.
Thus far, NPG has only two shows to announce: April 23 at Paisley Park as part of the Prince family celebration and May 22 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in California.
There is talk of European, Australian and U.S. tours. NPG is being managed by Jill Willis, who served as Prince’s co-manager for part of the ‘90s.
Hayes was music director for the official Prince tribute concert in October at Xcel Energy Center, an all-star marathon that received mixed reviews.
“It was quite an undertaking doing the tribute in October, the politics of it,” Hayes, who played with Prince from 1992 to 2012, told Billboard. “I had three people to please: the promoter, the family, and most of all, the fans.
“The resounding response I got on social media was they were so happy, but there were a lot of people who couldn’t get a ticket who wanted to hear this music. Prince’s music is here to stay and people want to experience that feeling of getting together. That was the biggest motivator for me.”
Hayes says NPG on tour will perform songs from Prince’s entire career, including the “Purple Rain” era when Prince worked with the Revolution.