For this drummer and percussionist, a fortuitous meeting led to touring the world with Prince and the A listers of ’80s music.
Sheila Escovedo known by her stage name Sheila E. made drumming the focus, and her sexy style kept all the eyes on her as she went for centre stage.
Escovedo, whose father was a percussionist and with several family members as musicians, was destined for the stage.
In the late 1970s she was performing with her Dad, as well as had worked with performers such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock and Lionel Ritchie. She also plays guitar and tuba.
It was a meeting in 1978 with Prince which set her on the path to fame. A few years later she was invited to be part of the recordings for Prince’s sixth album, Purple Rain, which was also the soundtrack to the accompanying film. Sheila E. became the opening act for the Purple Rain tour in 1984, and started work on her own solo album.
In mid-1984, Sheila E. released The Glamorous Life, and the self-titled lead single became her first hit single, making number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and a music video that had heavy airplay on MTV and MuchMusic. She was nominated for an American Music Award and Grammy Award.
The following year she released the album Romance 1600, which produced the popular single A Love Bizarre, which hit number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also released the single Holly Rock, both used on the soundtrack of 1985’s Krush Groove, which she also appeared in with Run DMC, LL Cool J and Blair Underwood.
For three consequent Prince albums of the 1980s, Sign O’ the Times, The Black Album and Lovesexy, Sheila E. was the musical director of his backup band, appeared in the concert film of the Sign O’ the Times tour, as well as releasing her third album Sheila E.
I liked Sheila E. – she had style and skill and wasn’t just a pretty girl on stage. Too bad I don’t have any musical skill – I would have loved to have emulated her!
Despite her lack of presence on radio or videos in subsequent decades, Sheila E.’s skill as a percussionist has made her a successful musician to this day, who has consequently worked with Cyndi Lauper, Ringo Starr, Morris Day, Gloria Estefan and still works with Prince.