Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin were teenagers when they joined Prince on the Revolution, the band that accompanied the singer on his rise to success. There was always a light of mystery about their relationship, and years later, the women confessed that yes, they were a couple for 20 years.
Back in the early ‘80s, Prince was at the peak of his popularity. He had just released his first album and wanted to amp things up for his next step into the music industry. So he created a multi-racial, multi-gendered musical ensemble. Lisa was on keyboard and piano, and Wendy on guitars.
They were 19 when they joined the band, Wendy three years after Lisa, and they were madly in love with each other. The girls’ story sounds like out of a rom-com movie. They met when they were two-years-old, went to the same school and became friends. They fell in love at 16 and were a couple for 22 years.
Their relationship worked perfectly for what Prince wanted to express through his band and all the mystery behind it. They were the representation of gay people even when they never admitted publicly that they were together. It was better that way for the singer, who fully supported their relationship and the creative power they shared.
In an interview with Out a few years ago, Lisa and Wendy finally opened up about life with Prince and how it was for them to be a lesbian couple in a male-dominated industry where they were already alienated for being female musicians.
“With Prince and the Revolution, I think that it was just taken for granted that we were supposed to be the gay reps in the band. The blacks, the whites, the gays. And people would say, Gee, do you think this lesbian thing is going to work for them? So, after the band kind of split up, the record labels would be like, You need to be wearing fur coats and sitting on motorcycles and long fingernails...” explained Wendy.
Lisa also explained the extent of Prince’s goal to have his band a representation of a racial and sexuality rainbow, as she remembered one particular occasion:
“We had a photo shoot for the Purple Rain poster. We were all in our different positions and he at one point walked over to me and Wendy and lifted my arm up and put my hand around Wendy's waist and said, There. And that is the poster. That's how precise he was about how he wanted the image of the band to be. He wanted it to be way more obvious. We weren't just the two girls in the band.”
However, they didn’t feel pressured by the singer’s obvious intentions. Instead, they fell protected, as Wendy explained that “There was so much mystery around him and he never had to answer to anybody or anything and I was so young and dumb that I thought I could adopt that philosophy.”
Wendy and Lisa had an incredible ride together as a couple, but they’re no longer together. At least not romantically. They still play and produce music together, but each has their own family. After Prince’s death, they reunited with the rest of the Revolution band to reminisce their time together and share their grief and pain.
Coleman explained their need to reunite after the singer’s passing, saying:
“We’re the only other people who can understand the loss we feel. We walked on the moon with this guy. I’ve never felt anything like how we’ve been feeling at these shows. People are openly weeping and the next minute they’re smiling. It’s profound.”
Wendy and Lisa will always be an important part of Prince’s story, and these days they’re still doing what they love, together, as the best friends they’ve always been.