“I forget a lot of things I do until someone brings up the subject,” she says. Sila E.. “I wish I could remember everything when I had so much to do! I look back and think a bit, but I’m always in the moment and I feel like there’s a lot more to do for me.”
On July 12, Sheila E.’s outstanding career will be recognized with a star. Hollywood Walk of Fame. “This is something I hadn’t even thought of,” Onur says. “Probably it was when I was younger, because growing up in the Bay Area he would go to Los Angeles and say, ‘Wow, this is Hollywood!’ That’s why he’s very humble.”
It’s been a long and crazy journey for the woman known as the “Queen of Percussion”. Besides hits like “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre”, PrinceHe had his early days touring with legends like Marvin Gaye and Lionel Richie; collaborations with a number of superstars such as Beyoncé, Phil Collins, and Gloria Estefan; his extensive work in film and television and his five-year run Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Group.
Starr pays tribute to his percussionist friend. “Sheila is an amazing drummer and bandmate,” she says. Variation. “The best example I can give you is to tell the story of when we went on tour: It was the first show of that tour, and during the sound check Sheila got caught in some wires. She had to be taken to the hospital and was back in a wheelchair with crutches. But did that stop her? NO! Just playing that night. not only did she put on her high heels over her sprained ankle when it was time to pretend! We all fainted.”
In June, Sheila appeared on Kelly Clarkson’s new album “Chemistry.” “Sheila E. is not only an incredible musician, but also a wonderful person who has shown me kindness, courage, and a reality that is rare in this industry,” Clarkson says.
Born in Oakland, Sheila Escovedo grew up in a musical environment—percussionist father Pete Escovedo would bring her band and friends like Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri to their home to rehearse, and her uncles played in bands ranging from punk to punk bands. santa Music was flourishing in the Bay Area. “We grew up in the environment of Carlos Santana and Sly Stone and the Pointer Sisters, Tower of Power, Grateful Dead—we were inspired by all these musicians,” she says.
Sheila studied music as a child (her father wanted her to play the violin), but that wasn’t her main focus. She ran track and played football—”I loved music,” she says, “but my goal was to win a gold medal at the Olympics.”
However, these plans were thwarted when she made her first show with her father at the age of 15. “This changed my whole life,” he says. “I quit everything. I knew then that this was what I had to do, play music, be a percussionist and entertainer.
Sheila soon began working with giants like Herbie Hancock and Diana Ross (“I was having so much fun, I didn’t want to get paid”) and joined fusion keyboardist George Duke’s band in 1977. She played percussion on what turned out to be Marvin Gaye’s last tour in 1983.
During her time with George Duke, Sheila met a young musician named Prince who was recording her debut album in the Bay Area. She said she saw him with George Duke on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” and “The Midnight Special”. They exchanged numbers, he recalls, “and the very next day, it was the beginning of a lifetime of memories.”
When Lionel was on tour with Richie, Prince had become an arena lead and they decided it was time to do a solo project, which Sheila emphasized was a common idea.
“Everyone thinks he created that solo role for me, but he didn’t,” she says. “Whenever I played in a situation with other artists, they always put me at the forefront. That’s why I’m used to doing things up front. “They stood for three days straight and recorded nonstop,” Sheila says, and the album “The Glamorous Life” came out in June 1984 – the same month that “Purple Rain” came out.
Prince took her on tour as the opening act, and they did a duet in “Erotic City.” Very quickly, Sheila E. became a star in her own right, with multiple Grammy and MTV Award nominations. Two more albums soon followed, but by 1987 it was hitting the wall.
“I was just tired,” she says. “The pressure of always trying to do everything that needs to be done and taking care of everyone – it was scary sometimes, it was really crazy. That’s why at the peak of my career I was like, ‘I’m done for a while.'”
He told Prince that he wanted to play drums again and that they should form a band together. Bringing together some members from each of their teams, they created the group that will likely be documented in the concert film “Sign ‘o’ the Times,” the definitive official document of Prince’s stage magic.
“I was very excited because that’s what I wanted to do, drumming in a rock ‘n’ roll band,” he says. “We created a drum kit with triggers on all drums. What he did for me was unbelievable, it was crazy, and I played him in high heels!”
Sheila and Prince were briefly engaged in the late 1980s, and Sheila would remain in a relationship with him for the rest of her life. After she died in 2016, she said, “It was hard to do anything in the beginning because I was so emotional. Now, seven years later, I can get over it – I celebrate my own way.
Sheila’s unique percussion style has taken her on unexpected paths over the years, from working on soundtracks with Hans Zimmer to winning the 2009 CMT game show “Gone Country.” His latest album “Hella Fonk E” with Sheila E. & the E-Train is available on his website and shows (“I didn’t want to release this record – the whole streaming thing is a mess and it’s unfair to us as artists”) and Ruben Blades, Gilberto Santa Rosa and of course completing her first salsa record with guests including her father.
As a pioneer in introducing Latin sounds to the pop audience (he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Latin Grammy Awards), he is proud of the incredible growth the genre has enjoyed. “It’s beautiful,” she says.
She also points out that women are constantly increasing in drum and studio roles, among other instruments. “When I was growing up, the only person I saw playing it was Karen Carpenter on the variety show she and her brother,” she says. “I said to my father, ‘I play the drums, I have brothers, why don’t we have a TV show’. That’s why it’s changing, and should change, as women are recognized not just for being women, but for the talent they have – we’re great musicians, we’re just women.
SIR: Sheila E. received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
WHEN: 11:30 am, 12 July
WHERE: 6752 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood