More than three decades ago, Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U,” an emotional expression of loss after a lover has left, for the Family, a group he’d signed to his Paisley Park label. Now the group, which goes by the name fDeluxe, has re-recorded the moving tune with members of recent Prince collaborators StrinGenius.
The group timed the release of their new video to coincide with the song’s opening lyric. “It’s with a musically heavy heart that tonight we honor our dear friend and musical collaborator Prince on what’s to be seven hours and 13 days after his passing,” singer Susannah Melvoin said in a statement, which also opens the video. “Our band, the Family – myself, Paul Peterson, Eric Leeds and Jellybean Johnson – offer you a moment of Prince’s musical legacy and brilliance with a song that he wrote for us many purple moons ago.”
Prince helped put together the group, which features Melvoin and Peterson on vocals, saxophonist and flautist Leeds, drummer Johnson, and percussionist Jerome Benton, in 1985. Melvoin is the twin sister of guitarist Wendy Melvoin, who played in Prince’s band the Revolution.
Prince wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on the Family’s self-titled debut, which came out in August 1985. The album contained the Top 10 R&B hit “The Screams of Passion,” and it served as home to “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The song became a Number One hit five years later when Sinéad O’Connor covered it. A variety of artists, including Aretha Franklin, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and jazz singer Jimmy Scott, have subsequently performed the song.
Prince began performing the tune that year and an impassioned live version, recorded as a duet with New Power Generation singer Rosie Gaines, appeared on the 1993 Prince compilation The Hits/The B Sides. He performed the song during his last full concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, a week before his death.
The Family disbanded after only one concert, at Minneapolis’ First Avenue – where Purple Rain was filmed – and Melvoin, Benton and Leeds went on to play with the Revolution. Johnson joined Flyte Tyme, and Peterson, who uses the stage name St. Paul, became a solo artist. The musicians, sans Benton, regrouped in 2011 and recorded a new album, Gaslight, under the fDeluxe moniker. They’ve gone on to put out three more records.