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Born to the name Mark Brown in the Bronx, funk-rocker BrownMark is forever a son of Minneapolis. A working musician since high school, at age 19 Mark Brown was rehearsing with his band Phantasy when he was cold-called by Prince to audition for his band in the summer of 1981. Mark Brown joined the band that would soon be called The Revolution, and he was rechristened by Prince as BrownMark.
BrownMark is currently playing bass on a global healing and celebration tour with The Revolution, in the memory of their former bandleader, Prince, and building on a musical career that pre-dated the early fame that began when he was hand-picked by the soon-to-be pop sensation Prince. Beginning with the album Controversy, Brown worked side by side with Prince, learned his catalogue, and collaborated with him on new music. Brown’s writing and production skills contributed to the success of the Purple Rain soundtrack, Around the World in a Day, Parade, and the shelved Dream Factory project that later morphed into Sign o’ the Times. Co-creator of the hit song “Kiss” (NME’s best single of the year in 1986), “Girls and Boys,” and “Data Bank,” his contributions helped build the foundation for Prince’s new music uprising. By the time 1999 Tour came around, Brown’s was a household name in the downtown music crowd.
After traveling the world on sold-out tours with Prince, Brown returned to Minneapolis to create the funk-rock band Mazarati, who were signed to the Paisley Park label in 1986. Mazarati went on to become a cult classic, and has grown in reputation as a hallmark of the Minneapolis Sound. He has also worked with the band Cryptic, and their release It’s Been Awhile.
In 2014, Brown launched BrownmarkNation, and went back to the studio to work on a solo album and to write a book about his life in the industry—before, during, and after his time with his brother, friend, and mentor Prince. With the untimely loss of Prince in 2016, Brown’s projects came to a halt as he regrouped with his Revolution band mates.
These days, BrownMark is making music in his own studio; jamming, recording, and performing with inspiring musicians; and encouraging younger artists who have been influenced by his career and who are making real music--cutting edge, skillful, & soulful. BrownMark's memoir is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press in late 2020.
And his story continues.
Welcome to BrownmarkNation.
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From the young Black teenager who built a bass guitar in woodshop to the musician building a solo career with Motown Records—Prince’s bassist BrownMark on growing up in Minneapolis, joining Prince and The Revolution, and his life in the purple kingdom
In the summer of 1981, Mark Brown was a teenager working at a 7-11 store when he wasn’t rehearsing with his high school band, Phantasy. Come fall, Brown, now called BrownMark, was onstage with Prince at the Los Angeles Coliseum, opening for the Rolling Stones in front of 90,000 people. My Life in the Purple Kingdom is BrownMark’s memoir of coming of age in the musical orbit of one of the most visionary artists of his generation. Raw, wry, real, this book takes us from his musical awakening as a boy in Minneapolis to the cold call from Prince at nineteen, from touring the world with The Revolution and performing in Purple Rain to inking his own contract with Motown.
BrownMark’s story is that of a hometown kid, living for sunny days when his transistor would pick up KUXL, a solar-powered, shut-down-at-sundown station that was the only one that played R&B music in Minneapolis in 1968. But once he took up the bass guitar—and never looked back—he entered a whole new realm, and, literally at the right hand of Twin Cities musical royalty, he joined the funk revolution that integrated the Minneapolis music scene and catapulted him onto the international stage. BrownMark describes how his funky stylings earned him a reputation (leading to Prince’s call) and how he and Prince first played together at that night’s sudden audition—and never really stopped. He takes us behind the scenes as few can, into the confusing emotional and professional life among the denizens of Paisley Park, and offers a rare, intimate look into music at the heady heights that his childhood self could never have imagined.
An inspiring memoir of making it against stacked odds, experiencing extreme highs and lows of success and pain, and breaking racial barriers, My Life in the Purple Kingdom is also the story of a young man learning his craft and honing his skill like any musician, but in a world like no other and in a way that only BrownMark could tell it.