The Tony! Toni! Toné! → Who? (1988); The Revival (1990); Sons of Soul (1993); House of Music (1996)
“I think Tony! Toni! Toné! ended too soon. We didn’t get a chance to develop into what everybody thought we should have been. One of my favorite songs from the Tony’s is ‘Anniversary.’ I think the main reason why our group stood out during that time is because we were different. We always took chances and we were more like a family group. That’s why we felt real and true to people who listened to our music. We made a lot of good friends whenever we went to different towns to tour.
Being in a band in the late ‘80s was normal to us. We grew up listening to the Isley Brothers, Ohio Players, and Earth Wind & Fire. We came up in Oakland where we saw the Whispers, Con Funk Shun, Tower of Power, Sly & The Family Stone and Larry Graham…they were all right there. We only knew to do that; we didn’t know anything else. Tony! Toni! Toné! started off as a garage band. We would go to a garage, stay there all day, and rehearse. You know how the MC’s had rhyme battles with different rappers? Battle MC’s like LL Cool J battling other MC’s from Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. There was a battle-of-a-bands thing going on in Oakland and we experienced all of that.
The early version of Tony! Toni! Toné! would play at clubs for $25 a night. There was one club we played in Oakland called the Lucky Lion, which was a very famous club that Prince would come to and recruit a lot of musicians for his bands. And this was before I played for Prince and Sheila E. It was the Mecca for bands. Any musician that travels across the world knows about Oakland’s rich band legacy. So when we came out as Tony! Toni! Toné! we just wanted to hold that flag up really high.”