From the young Black teenager who built a bass guitar in woodshop to the musician building a solo career with Motown Records—Prince’s bassist BrownMark on growing up in Minneapolis, joining Prince and The Revolution, and his life in the purple kingdom
In the summer of 1981, Mark Brown was a teenager working at a 7-11 store when he wasn’t rehearsing with his high school band, Phantasy. Come fall, Brown, now called BrownMark, was onstage with Prince at the Los Angeles Coliseum, opening for the Rolling Stones in front of 90,000 people. My Life in the Purple Kingdom is BrownMark’s memoir of coming of age in the musical orbit of one of the most visionary artists of his generation. Raw, wry, real, this book takes us from his musical awakening as a boy in Minneapolis to the cold call from Prince at nineteen, from touring the world with The Revolution and performing in Purple Rain to inking his own contract with Motown.
BrownMark’s story is that of a hometown kid, living for sunny days when his transistor would pick up KUXL, a solar-powered, shut-down-at-sundown station that was the only one that played R&B music in Minneapolis in 1968. But once he took up the bass guitar—and never looked back—he entered a whole new realm, and, literally at the right hand of Twin Cities musical royalty, he joined the funk revolution that integrated the Minneapolis music scene and catapulted him onto the international stage. BrownMark describes how his funky stylings earned him a reputation (leading to Prince’s call) and how he and Prince first played together at that night’s sudden audition—and never really stopped. He takes us behind the scenes as few can, into the confusing emotional and professional life among the denizens of Paisley Park, and offers a rare, intimate look into music at the heady heights that his childhood self could never have imagined.
An inspiring memoir of making it against stacked odds, experiencing extreme highs and lows of success and pain, and breaking racial barriers, My Life in the Purple Kingdom is also the story of a young man learning his craft and honing his skill like any musician, but in a world like no other and in a way that only BrownMark could tell it.
BrownMark (Mark Brown) is an American musician, bassist, and record producer born in Minneapolis. His early fame came in 1981 when he joined The Revolution, Prince’s original touring (and later, recording) band.
Cynthia M. Uhrich is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of In the Moment Films. Her writing has been published by Smith & Krauss and Freshwater Press, and she facilitates a twice-yearly writing retreat for women in Minnesota, where she resides.
Questlove is a musician and music journalist. He is the drummer and joint frontman for the band The Roots, the in-house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since 2014.
"A story of low notes and high stakes, of Revolution and of evolution, of bands and fans and best-laid plans, of pills and thrills and daffodils. Hang tough, children, and read it."—Questlove, from the Foreword
"This is not a tell-all book. It is simply a candid, honest, heartfelt story about a young kid who goes on to achieve his dream of making it in the music industry, and the price that he pays along the way. It’s an uplifting tale about working with Prince, and it is an enjoyable read that serves as another piece of the puzzle that is Prince."—The Great Song Traveler
"This page-turning memoir... will appeal to BrownMark’s fans and general music enthusiasts."—Library Journal
"Those looking for a memoir awash in sex, drugs, and the seamier sides of Prince’s private life will instead discover hard work and rigid discipline under a stern taskmaster, an artist who became what he was through minute attention to detail as well as genius. A memoir of vivid detail and understandable ambivalence."—Kirkus Reviews
"If you want to get to know Mark Brown, the human, I would say this book is a good way to go."—Insight News
"The profound life lessons BrownMark learned while playing in the Revolution, as well as his experiences touring the world with Prince, forever changed his life. And BrownMark proudly carries those memories with him as he continues to blaze new trails while keeping Prince’s legacy alive."—City Pages
"Simultaneously poignant and inspiring."—The Arts Fuse
"By turns a reflective examination of his own place in the Paisley world over those years and a straight-shooting account of the less beautiful side of Prince’s modus operandi at his commercial zenith."—SoulTracks
"An arresting piece of social history, often interesting and original."—Moving the River
"Enlightening."—Chicago Review of Books
"This memoir could be a real inspiration to someone with dreams."—The Bookworm Sez
"My Life in the Purple Kingdom makes it clear anyone who thinks BrownMark was handed phenomenal success at a young age on a platter can think again."—Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
"Seemingly overnight, BrownMark was thrown into an entirely different reality, sharing the stage with The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and more. With Prince & The Revolution, he’d tour the world in one of the most iconic bands in history, perform some the greatest hits in popular music and experience an overwhelming level of fame."—Forbes Magazine