Robert B. Rivkin (born January 9, 1956), better known by the stage name Bobby Z., is an American musician and record producer, most known as being a member of Prince's band from 1978-1986, and as a member of The Revolution.
Rivkin began his musical career at the age of 6, playing several different instruments before finally settling on the drums. In junior high school, he formed a small touring band in the Minneapolis area that included future Chicago Bears football coach Marc Trestman on rhythm guitar.
He met Prince in the late 1970s as Prince was forming his first band for touring. He started running errands for Prince. Rivkin's stage name, Bobby Z., was derived from the nickname "Butzie" his grandmother used to call him.
Prince was adamant about having a white drummer in an effort to have a racially diverse band. Rivkin replaced Prince's cousin and original drummer Charles Smith much akin to Sly and the Family Stone. Rivkin was acknowledged in Prince's self-titled album as being a "heaven-sent" helper. By the time the 1999 album was released, Prince was relying more and more on electronic drums and Rivkin had to adapt his style to operate these in concert. In 1986 when Wendy & Lisa left The Revolution, Prince also took the opportunity to replace Rivkin with Sheila E.
Bobby Z also produced some tracks for Boy George's 1988 album, Tense Nervous Headache. Rivkin helped Wendy and Lisa on their debut album and even released his own album in 1989 (which included a re-recorded version of "River Run Dry" that he wrote for The Family). Rivkin has since focused more on producing for the recently launched record label branch of Copycats media.
He is also the cousin of Heavy Metal drummer, Kristian Dobson.
Bobby Z suffered a heart attack in early 2010 and after his recovery Bobby has made it his mission to continue to raise public awareness of heart attack warning signs and risk factors. He has lobbied Congress for continued research. He then set up a fund raising charity called My Purple Heart which went about raising both funds and awareness of heart disease.
In 2011 Bobby celebrated the one-year anniversary of surviving his near-fatal heart attack at First Avenue, with a rare reunion performance of The Revolution--Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Brown Mark, Dr. Fink and Bobby Z which raised much needed funds to benefit heart-health awareness,.
The concert, billed as a 'Benefit 2 Celebrate Life!' and presented by Z and the American Heart Association, featured The Revolution, along with heart-health and life-saving information and inspiring stories of survival. The Revolution had not played together since 2003.
His foundation My Purple Heart, partnered with the American Heart Association once again in 2013 to host a star-studded benefit concert and weekend block party on March 9, at First Avenue on the 2nd anniversary of his near-fatal heart attack. Again members of the Revolution appeared alongside Bobby as well as star guests such as Maya Rudolph, local boy and runner up from The Voice Nicholas David, Alexander O'Neal, André Cymone, Dez Dickerson, Dr. Fink and The Roots drummer Questlove. Wendy Melvoin also appeared as the resident guitarist for the night's events.
In May 2013 Bobby Z joined Prince on stage during the closing two shows of Prince's whirlwind 3rdeyegirl tour. Both shows took place on the same night with Bobby taking over from Prince's current drummer Hanna-Ford-Welton. He sat in on both shows for one song. On both occasions it was Purple Rain. In late May 2013 Bobby appeared alongside former bandmate André Cymone on a web based chat show co-hosted by celeb Blogger Dr.Funkenberry where they both reminisced about their early days on the road with Prince. Bobby also mentioned that it was a thrill to be back on stage with Prince
Bobby now hosts a radio show every Sunday on 96.3 K-TWIN in Minneapolis, MN
Black Simmons SDSV,
Simmons SDSV Module,
Linn LM-1 Drum Machine,
Black Pearl Syncussion(x2),
Pearl Syncussion Module(x2),
The Minneapolis club "Bobby Z's" is actually not affiliated with Bobby Z; it is named after the Minnesota native Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan.
Bobby's brothers are film maker Stephen E. Rivkin and fellow Minneapolis musician David Z.