Prince was never one to be put in a box. When MTV asked him, in 1985, if he had sold out his black fans with Purple Rain, he shut them down with:

“I grew up in a black and white world and I listened to all kinds of music when I was younger.”

As the LA Times said, “Prince was our first post-everything pop star, defying easy categories of race, genre and commercial appeal.”

Half a world away, in suburban Melbourne, Andrew De Silva was growing up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke via his music loving parents.  As a teen he then took up guitar and started playing in big hair bands inspired by Poison and Motley Crue.  “Living Colour blew my mind at the time too, because they had a bit more funk with their rock. Lenny Kravitz is one of my heroes and Prince has always been there because he just did it all.”

Andrew became a Prince fan when he was in Grade 4 in the early 80s watching Purple Rain.  “There was something about it that I related to. He’s the underdog. He was quiet. But when he steps on stage, look out. Which is a lot like my life.”

When the 90’s hit, Andrew was back to R&B and the vibrant scene that was taking over the club scene at the time. He started playing lots of keyboard and computer stuff and writing his own songs. He met the guys from CDB and was impressed by their polish.  “They had dance routines. I never did any of that stuff because I came from the band world, playing bass and playing guitar. Here were these four guys that sang and danced. And the girls loved them too. They heard my songs and it was a match made in heaven. I was initiated.”

Andrew went straight out of high school and into what was pretty much Australia’s only R&B act: “At the time radio was flooded with Rock & Pop. We toured constantly & supported massive international acts like Boys II Men & Jodeci.”  Their biggest hit, Lets Groove Tonight peaked at no. 2 on the ARIA singles chart in 1995.

Prince told Larry King in 1999 that his spirituality came before fame, but that the music came before everything. And this is something that Andrew also felt, after being diagnosed with cancer and making the tough decision to leave CDB in 1997. He was signed with Sony as a solo artist (after going into remission) but his music was not exactly radio friendly. He didn’t care. After what he had been through, it was about the music for him rather than success.

Fast forward to 2012 and suddenly Andrew was winning Australia’s Got Talent. Something he says has changed his life:  “On a personal level it has been life changing. Lots of doors have opened up. I used to say no to a lot for some reason. But I thought – I don’t know what is going to come out of this, it is not in my comfort zone at all, but I just threw myself into it. Winning the show however was just the icing on the cake. It was about pushing the limits. Everyone can push the limits and its just about making the choice I guess.”

How did Purple Revolution come about?

It came about naturally. Something I did recently was The Life and the Music of Marvin Gaye. It was a theater show. It excited me because I realised, as an artist, singing another artist that you love is just an amazing thing to do. And then I was talking to Simon (Mills) and I was like:  “You know what man, I could really do Prince and do it well.”  And he was like: “Man, I’m sure you could!”  All my life I’ve been playing his music. All the guys in my band love his music. So we put the show together.

Prince has an extensive back catalogue. How did you decide on the songs you would put in the show?

For the first show, I just wanted to do the heavy hitters. Purple Rain, Doves Cry. Because at the time we put the show together, Prince was alive. So it wasn’t like he was all over you tube or anything.

We started off with Lets go Crazy. And everyone was just staring at me like, “Is this guy for real?” I had a bit of the eyeliner on, you know just a little bit. And I thought, I’m just gonna do this, I’m just gonna go all out. And everyone just stood there for a while and stared at me. But then, when we kicked into the song, they just RAN to the dance floor and just went nuts.  After the gig, we had tingles and felt like we should have done this years ago.

The Marvin Gaye thing opened the door to how to do things like this and to do it well. Not like an impersonator, you can lose yourself in that, and I don’t want to lose myself. Impersonating Prince is not an easy thing to do. Who he is anyway? My kids wont let me wear high heels either.

How has the death of Prince shaped things?

I guess now the whole show has just taken on a new meaning, a deeper meaning and a life now. We are yet to do one since. The first one to celebrate Prince’s Birthday on June 7th. We’re just gonna take our time with certain songs. Keep his music alive. It’s one thing to listen to the songs on CD, but for a band to play it live is another. And the musicians I have are world class. We just want to do the songs as well as we can.

How did you get together with the other members of the band?

These are all friends of mine. We have been playing together for 20 years, some of us. Simon Hosford is the guitarist; he’s played with Men at Work, Tommy Emmanuel and Jon Stevens. He’s a well-sorted lead guitarist. Johnny Solerno plays drums. He plays with Jon Stevens as well and Jimmy Barnes. So these guys have been around for a while and they are a joy to play with. They love doing this too. It’s not just another gig for them.

Purple Revolution are playing at the Corner on June 7th on what would have been Princes 58th birthday. Kiss-FM Dj Eddie Mac (who has a pretty exciting Prince connection himself) will kick things off.  Eddie Mac and his vinyl funk collection featured at the private after party in Melbourne on Princes Piano and a Microphone tour earlier this year. Prince was so into it that he personally asked if Eddies team could pull the same thing together in Sydney the next night.  If Prince cant get enough, it must be pretty nuts.

Princes Birthday Celebration hosted by MC Stick Mareebo also features guest performances on the night from Dale Ryder (Boom Crash Opera) and Phil Ceberano with a hint of more to be announced. Tickets are selling out so move quick!  For tickets follow the link below or visit www.purplerevolution.com.au to keep up with all the news!





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