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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Prince’s Bass Player (BrownMark of The Revolution)

A phone call came into the WAY Community Center late one evening. The Center was closed, so the phone usually didn’t ring after hours, but on this particular evening something unusual was set into motion. It wasn’t the janitor’s job to answer the phone, but he did anyway—just to let whoever was calling know that the Center was closed.

In the back warehouse of the WAY Community Center was a band called Fantasy (sometimes spelled Phantasy). They met there after hours because the lead singer, Randy Barber, was one of the Center employees, and he created easy access to this perfect rehearsal space. No one knew the band was there, and this was one of the conditions—it was the only way Fantasy could stay after hours. When the janitor knocked on the warehouse door that late summer night, it was quite the surprise to the band—they knew their presence was a secret. The janitor said in soft voice, knowing he was interrupting a band meeting, “Someone is on the phone for a Mark Brown.”

  1. Prince had been trailing this local bass player for some time, taking notice of his style and his feel for music, and Brown was already in the studio spending hard-earned money and learning how to write and record his own music. The music scene in the twin cities was hot, and plenty of bands were headed to Minneapolis to make a mark. At age 17, Brown had started exploring this newfound love of recording. His plan was to make his own mark. When he joined Prince, all of his own work came to a sudden halt.
  2. Then later, Brown was able to live out his desire to express himself through music by putting together a band he named Mazarati, after the car. Fast, sexy, Funk rock & roll. Living vicariously through this group, Brown was able to create a replica of himself in the form of a band. This way he could concentrate 100% on backing Prince.
  3. Mazarati was signed to Paisley Park Records, under BrownMark’s production company, BRM Productions.
  4. BrownMark developed Mazarati as a template, experimenting and developing his songwriting and producing skills. With an unorthodox approach to music, Brown would play all the instruments on his recordings and bring in musicians to add solos and vocals. By the mid 80s, BrownMark started accepting contracts with major labels as a producer/songwriter.
  5. BrownMark gained Prince’s respect when he began to explore a life outside the Purple Kingdom, writing and producing for several artists as well as dabbling in the world of jingles for commercials. Brown maintained a friendship with Prince and frequented Paisley Park, offering love and support to his former boss and bandmate. BrownMark once said, “Real love is unconditional. Prince and I had this mutual understanding of each other’s needs and aspirations. There were good times and there were bad, but love covered over all of it. When I told him I wanted to move on he looked at me and said, ‘I understand. You’re always welcome back here BrownMark’”

In Brown’s words, “Never let your love for the game come between your love for your friends. The game can change like the morning mist, but true friends are forever.” (You’ll be able to read more soon… BrownMark’s forthcoming memoir will be available in late 2020.)