The Family was born out of the ashes of the Time, which disbanded in 1984. But although the two projects shared several members — including drummer Jellybean Johnson, percussionist Jerome Benton, and vocalist and keyboard player St. Paul Peterson — Prince soon began pulling the group into an entirely new sonic direction that combined funk with pop and jazz.
The lineup for the Family was rounded out by saxophonist Eric Leeds, who had begun touring alongside Prince on the Purple Rain Tour, and the vocalist Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of the Revolution's Wendy Melvoin. They released their first and only album as the Family in August 1985, becoming the first non-Prince act to release music on the new Warner Bros. imprint Paisley Park Records.
The group is as tight as ace drummer Jellybean Johnson's pants. At the end of one hot number, Family members fell on their backs, twitching like fried eggs.”
Neal Karlen, Rolling Stone, 1985
As with many of Prince's side projects from that era, Prince recorded all of the original instruments and vocals on The Family himself, then brought in St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin to overdub their vocals, Eric Leed to add saxophone flourishes, Clare Fischer to add string arrangements, and Wendy Melvoin to add guitar on one track, "Yes."
Of the eight tracks on The Family, "Nothing Compares 2 U" is the most instantly recognizable. It would become an unexpected number-one hit a few years later when it was covered by the Irish artist Sinead O'Connor, inspiring Prince to incorporate it into his live show set lists and release a couple of different versions of the song later in his career.
The Family Album Credits
St. Paul Peterson vocals Susannah Melvoin vocals Prince various instruments Eric Leeds saxophone Clare Fischer string orchestration Wendy Melvoin guitar