Born Paul Petersen in Minneapolis, MN, the artist later known as St. Paul was encouraged by his mother, who was an accomplished pianist. At 17, Petersen became one of a number of artists to come under the tutelage of Prince, joining the act the Time as keyboardist. In addition to appearing in the film Purple Rain as a member of that act, he also played keyboards on 1984's Ice Cream Castle. The group disbanded not long after that platinum-selling record, but Petersen was tapped by Prince to be a member of a new group, the Family, and changed his stage name to St. Paul. Signed to Prince's fledgling Paisley Park imprint, the act also included ex-Time mates Jellybean Johnson on drums and Jerome Benton on percussion. With lead singer Susannah Melvoin (sister of the Revolution's Wendy Melvoin) and Eric Leeds adding saxophone, the Family issued a self-titled debut in 1985, earning more than a smattering of critical accolades. The Family spawned two R&B hits with "High Fashion" and "The Screams of Passion," the latter going Top Ten and also making a dent in the pop charts. The group also performed the Prince-penned "Nothing Compares 2 U," which would later be popularized by Sinéad O'Connor. the Family was a short-lived entity, though, and the following year, after the Family's split, St. Paul released his solo debut. Like the Family, St. Paul's critical appeal outstripped commercial success, although "Rich Man" did become an R&B hit. His second solo outing, 1990's Down to the Wire, yielded another hit, "Stranger to Love," which managed to crossover onto the pop charts and reaching number 52. Blue Cadillac arrived in 1996 to less success, as well as a stint with the Minneapolis Allstars on 1998's Live at the Quest. St. Paul also charted out a path as an in-demand session player, contributing to albums by Jonny Lang, the Spice Girls, and Anita Baker (to name but a few). In the late '90s, he added two years of playing bass on the Donny & Marie Show to his resumé and penned material for artists including BBMak and Youngstown. In 2001, he joined Donny Osmond for the singer's first solo tour in more than a decade as musical director, working with legendary producer Phil Ramone. With a list of credits that is impressive to say the least, Petersen has proven to have more longevity and success than most of the acts in Prince's stable during the mid-'80s. ~ Tom Demalon
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