Prince's sound was evolving rapidly in the mid-1980s and he explored various styles of music through his many side projects. In the span of just two years, Prince's attention had shifted from the funk-pop of the Time to the softer and more melodic jazz-funk of the Family to the more exploratory jazz fusion of Madhouse, a collaboration between Prince and the Family's saxophonist, Eric Leeds.
Although Prince's jazz influences are not as immediately recognizable in the blend of funk, rock, new wave, R&B and pop that was at the center of much of his earlier work, his interest in the genre became more pronounced as the 1980s wore on. Madhouse gave Prince an outlet to explore those influences — which began by observing his father, the jazz pianist John L. Nelson, from a young age, and blossomed as he dug further into the work of the legendary artist Miles Davis — and 8 is mostly Prince alone in the studio, feeling out new colors and sounds.
This was a period during which he was still defining himself, and that included a keen interest in instrumental music. He listened to Miles, Weather Report, Return to Forever...”
Eric Leeds, The Quietus, 2015
Mysteriously, Madhouse was presented to the world as a project from the fictional Atlanta keyboardist Austra Chanel, and an official bio insisted that the group also included a drummer named John Lewis and a bassist named Bill Lewis in addition to the horn player Eric Leeds, who had first joined Prince's live band on the Purple Rain Tour. Publications picked up on this fabricated backstory about the band and tales about these mystery bandmates ran rampant, despite the fact that Leeds was the only person besides Prince to participate in 8.
8 Album Credits
Prince all other instruments Eric Leeds tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute