André Cymone is an American bass player, songwriter and record producer. Born Andre Simon Anderson, Cymone was a bass player in Prince’s touring band, from 1979 to 1981. Cymone’s stage name comes from a variation of his middle name, Simon; he added an accent on the "e" of his first name and turned it into "André", the french spelling of "Andre".
After leaving Prince’s band, he signed a deal with Columbia and began a solo career. Between 1982 and 1985, he released three albums. Of them A.C. , released in 1985, was most successful, with the help of the single The Dance Electric, a Prince-penned song. The single reached number 10 on the Billboards R&B charts.
In the 80’s and 90’s, André Cymone also co-wrote and produced songs for other artists, such as Pebbles, Lalah Hathaway, Jermaine Stewart and Adam Ant. He also produced several hits for Jody Watley: "Looking for a New Love" (US #2, #1 Dance, #1 R&B, UK #13), "Still a Thrill" (US #56, #3 R&B #1 Dance) and "Real Love" (US #2, #1 R&B, #2 Dance, UK #31).
| Musical Career
Andre Simon Anderson grew up in Minneapolis Minnesota with Prince. They met in the 7th grade at Bryant Junior High School. In his early teens Prince lived with the Anderson family at 1244 Russell Ave N. for a while.
| Early Musical Career
While in high-school Prince (keyboard and guitar) and André Anderson (bass) with Prince’s second cousin, Charles 'Chazz' Smith on drums formed a band. They initially did not have a name, but when Terry Jackson (percussion) joined they briefly went by Charles; Cousin & Friends, Phoenix, Sex Machine, finally settling for Grand Central. André Cymone’s sister Linda Anderson (keyboard) and soon after William "Hollywood" Doughty (percussion) also joined the group. They rehearsed at Terry Jackson’s house (next to the Anderson’s house where Prince and André lived) and primarily played at local community centers and high school dances. By late 1974 drummer Charles 'Chazz' Smith was replaced by Morris Day after a recording session at the Cookhouse Studios (Minneapolis, Minnesota). As time went by Grand Central started playing original music. They were sometimes referred to as 'Grand Central Corporation' after Morris Day’s mother started managing them.
In early 1976 André, Prince and Morris Day recorded a demo at ASI Studio, a 16-track facility in north Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they cut six original songs:
In Spring 1976 they did more recording at Moonsound, an Eight-track studio located in Lake Nokomis, south of downtown Minneapolis. The studio was owned by Chris Moon who approached Prince and proposed a collaboration, which Prince accepted. There are conflicting statements whether Prince left the band before or after band changed its name to Shampayne.
In late 1976, after both Terry Jackson (who went to play with a band called Cohesion) and Prince had left the band, they evolved into Shampayne (the band’s name was changed partly to avoid confusion with Graham Central Station and conflicts with Charles 'Chazz' Smith). Prince went on to play with Sonny T.’s band The Family a.k.a. Back To Black', while Andre continued to work with Shampayne, where Andre Lewis was recruited to take in Prince’s position as guitar player; Shampayne was disbanded in early 1978.
| Work With Prince
The Imperials Sessions
In February 1978, Pepe Willie recruits André and Prince as studio musicians for Tony Sylvester. They recorded four songs for "The Imperials" project, a band Tony Sylvester was considering producing, at Sound Palace Studios in New-York:
They also used the occasion to record demos at Music farm Studios in New-York for With You and I Feel For You (written by Prince) and Thrill You Or Kill You and Do Me, Baby, both written by André.
Joining Prince’s band
During the summer of 1978, Prince started to assemble a backing band. André (on bass guitar) was the first member recruited. Auditions and rehearsals went on during summer and autumn 1978 at Del’s Tire Mart, where a rehearsal space was rented, while Bobby Z.(drums), Gayle Chapman (keyboards), Dez Dickerson (guitar) and Matt Fink (keyboards) joined the band.
After having rehearsed for a few month André plays his first concerts as Prince’s Band bass guitar player; they performed two shows in Minneapolis:
The Rebels sessions
In June 1979 André began rehearsals with the Prince’s band in the University Warehouse building in south Minneapolis. From 10 to 21st July 1979, Prince organized a 12 days recording session in Mountain Ears Studios in Boulder, Colorado for the band, renamed The Rebels for the occasion. The sessions, which were a group effort, was an opportunity for André to write his own songs; 9 tracks were recorded:
The Prince Tour
In August 1979, André performs with the Prince Band, they back Prince for two showcase gigs for Warner Bros. personnel and media people:
Prince also uses André and the band when 2 videos for I Wanna Be Your Lover and Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?, two singles from the forthcoming Prince eponymous album, are shot.
André joined the Prince Tour as bass player in Prince’s band; it was launched in Los Angeles with a show at The Roxy Theatre on 26 November 1979 followed by 5 other performances in Denver, Burleson, Houston and Avondale (show #1), (show #2) and Philadelphia; the remaining dates of the tour had to be canceled due to Prince’s health issues.
In January 1980, André taped his very first performances with Prince’s band for American television: "The American Bandstand" performance was aired on 26 January 1980, "The Midnight Special" was aired on 9 February 1980:
In early February 1980, the Prince Tour was re-launched for an 8 concerts schedule before being enlisted as warm-up act for the Rick James Tour ’80; they play around 40 performances on the tour from late February to late April 1980.
The Dirty Mind Tour
In early December 1980, after the release of Prince’s third album Dirty Mind, André goes back on tour with Prince’s band; they play 11 dates for the Dirty Mind Tour.
In mid February 1981, André and Prince’s band are enlisted for the shooting of Uptown and Dirty Mind videos in Hollywood. They also perform Partyup on "Saturday Night Live":
The Dirty Mind Tour second leg starts on 9 March 1981 in Minneapolis, and concludes on 6 April 1981 in New Orleans.
Assembling The Time
In April 1981, André get involved into The Time project while developing his own project of an all-female band "The Girls". Unhappy about his position in Prince’s band and his output not being acknowledged enough, André decided to leave Prince’s camp and pursue a solo career. He nevertheless accepted to participate the already scheduled European Gigs.
1981 European Mini-tour
André and Prince’s band leave the USA on late May 1981 for a 3-gigs promotional tour of Europe:
When he returns from Europe, André plays one last time a couple of songs with Prince’s band at Dez Dickerson’s wedding:
| After Working With Prince
After leaving Prince’s camp, André signed a deal with Columbia and developed his own sound, a mix of funk, new wave, hard rock and pop through two albums:
- Livin’ in the New Wave (1982)
- Survivin’ in the 80’s (1983)
André also wrote and produced four songs for Evelyn “Champagne” King’s 1983 album Face to Face (including the Top 30 R&B single “Teenager”).
In 1983, he assembled his own all-female band, "The Girls": Sheila Rankin, Germain Brooks, and Doris Rhodes. The band had a sexy image, R-rated lyrics, and sounded Minneapolis-style. André succeeded in getting them a deal with Columbia in 1983; he wrote or co-wrote all of the material, including the single "Don’t Waste My Time.", and produced the band’s debut: "Girl Talk" (1984). The album didn’t sell well and the Girls were dropped by Columbia just before splitting up in 1985.
The Dance Electric
After Prince recorded The Dance Electric on 17 August 1984 1984 at Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse, Eden Prairie (MN), USA he decided to give the song to André. Cymone’s lead vocals were overdubbed at some point between late 1984 and Summer 1985, and the song was released on his 3rd solo album:
Released as a single, The Dance Electric became André’s biggest hit, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Black Singles Chart and number 8 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco Chart.
André also guested on stage during Prince shows on a few occasions in 1986 (1 February, 23 May and 7 June).
In 1987 André wrote and produced James Ingram’s single “Better Way”. He produced Jody Watley’s debut album, for which he contributed 6 songs. The pair collaborated extensively until 1993.
In 1988, André produced three tracks and co-wrote the track "Under My Skin" for Phil Thornalley’s 1988 solo album "Swamp". He contributed to Pebbles' debut album with the song “Love/Hate” and worked briefly with Phil Thornalley, producing the single “Love Me Like a Rock” and contributing the song "Under My Skin" for his debut album "Swamp" (MCA). He was credited as keyboards player and producer of Pretty Poison’s 1988 album “Catch Me I’m Falling”.
In 1989 André composed, performed, mixed and produced 12 out of 13 songs of Jody Watley’s second album "Larger Than Life".
In 1990, André produced Adam Ant’s comeback album and first new release in five years "Manners & Physique", contributing music for "Rough Stuff", "Manners & Physique", composing "Room At The Top" and "Piccadilly", and performing multiple instruments on each song.
In 1991 he wrote and produced Jermaine Stewart’s single "Say It Again" (on his album "Say It Again" on Arista). He also composed, arranged, performed and produced 5 songs for Jody Watley’s third studio album "Affairs of the Heart".
In 1993 André composed, performed, mixed and produced 4 songs for Jody Watley’s fourth studio album "Intimacy".
In 1994 he wrote and produced the song "Something For Your Head" on Tom Jones' "The Lead and How to Swing It" album, for which he also contributed backing vocals.
In 1995 he composed one song to Jody Watley’s fifth studio album, "Affection".
From the mid-‘90s onward, Cymone wasn’t as visibly active. He worked with independent artists, including St. Paul Peterson (Blue Cadillac 1996), Angel Sessions (Introducing 1998), and Jody Russell (Just in Time 1999).
| Current Work
On August 27th 2011, The Minneapolis Urban League organized a Minneapolis Family Day party with live events and workshops. The "Arms around the Northside" concert featured Minneapolis 94 East, Marshall Thompson & Chi-Lites, André Cymone and Bobby Z..
On 6 September 2012 André released a digital single, titled "America", in aid of United States President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign with all proceeds from the sale of the digital single being donated to the campaign. The digital single was made available through andrecymone.bandcamp.com. A new song titled ""American Dream", was made available from 26 September 2012 onwards as a free download on andrecymone.bandcamp.com.
On 26 October 2012 (a.m.), André performed The Dance Electric with Prince in The Sayers Club, Los Angeles (CA), USA.
On 9 March 2013, André played play at the 2nd Annual Benefit 2 Celebrate Life held in First Avenue, Minneapolis (MN), USA.