Prince’s Legacy Continues On
Marshall Charloff lead singer of The Purple xperience

By Dave Cohen

Marshall Charloff is the front man for The Purple Experience, a five-piece Prince tribute band hailing from, like Prince himself, Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have been touring around the country since 2011 bringing fans the sounds and now memories of Prince and The Revolution. Interestingly enough, while they are a tribute band one of its members keyboardist Matt “Doctor” Fink was actually a member of Prince and The Revolution from 1978 to 1991 while Charloff’s latest two recordings are on the album “94 East” featuring Prince, on which he plays both keyboards and bass guitar. Charloff brings The Purple Xperience to the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater on July 22 and recently spoke with INsite’s Dave Cohen.

With the recent passing of Prince has your approach to the show that you’re doing changed at all?

Yes, it has changed. The word Tribute has a deeper meaning. It really is now. It’s shifted from our brand and experience and watching what we do to kind of more of a healing environment for everybody in the room as well as everybody on the stage. I break character on occasion where I never did before in the previous five years. I’ve had personal experiences with Prince myself, individually, and in the days following, when we had gigs on the books that pre-dated his passing, we were booked months prior, and we were off on the road the next day with obligations so it was a more personal show with the audience and I was able to share, first-hand, my own experiences with Prince. It changed a lot.

You met Prince on a couple of occasions?

My personal meetings with him pre-date this Purple Xperience project. It started when I was eighteen and I did meet him several times. I was invited into rehearsals, etc. I did not unfortunately have the opportunity to be face-to-face with him since doing this project.

There’s an on-stage personality and an attitude that you bring to the stage during each show. How do you convey that to your audience each night going between you, the musician and the persona of Prince that you’re portraying?

That’s an excellent question. I think it’s just channeling what he exuded, which was extreme confidence at the highest level of musicianship, the highest level of entertainment and engagement with an audience that I’ve ever seen encompassed in one person. So, I just try to encompass that. I don’t really do a whole lot of trying to “be” Prince. I do a whole of trying to be the best guitar player, best piano player, best bass player, best drummer, best singer and best entertainer that I can be. You’re going to get a lot of what I bring as my own artistry, that being said I am heavily influenced by Prince and always have been. There are certain mannerisms, things like that, just from paying so much attention throughout the years that I think I’ve just adopted them anyway without trying anymore.

Having Matt “Doctor” Fink, who played and toured with Prince and The Revolution from 1978 to 1991 on stage with you playing keyboards and your prior work on the “94 East” album, which featured Prince, from a credibility standpoint, The Purple Xperience has it.

Sure, although I don’t think it’s limited to just the two of us. All the players in the band are Minneapolis-based musicians and have been in the music scene there for twenty to twenty-five years. But knowing Matt, I’ve worked with him in the studio prior to this project on the 94 East recordings. Those were the original Prince recordings before he got signed at Warner Brothers when he was working with Pepe Willie and Matt did a lot of mixing on those projects and I was brought in as a session player so I played bass, guitar and keyboards on several of the 94 East albums. Yes, it means a lot obviously that an original member of The Revolution is represented. It certainly brings a lot of credibility to the project and it means a lot to me but Matt has been my friend for so long that I tend to forget his history sometimes.

This will be your first show at Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater but Atlanta is a regular tour stop when you’re on the road.

We’ve played in Atlanta many times. Atlanta for some reason is a hot spot for us for the past five years. We seem to play shows there every two to three months.

The Purple Xperience will perform on Friday, July 22 at The Fred. For more information visit Amphitheatre.org.

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