Percussionist/singer Sheila E. most recently was in the public eye as bandleader on
Magic Johnson's TV talk show.
While Sheila E.'s accomplished percussion playing often adds spice to other performers'
records (The Artist, Gloria Estefan) and tours (Lionel Richie, Patti LaBelle), she also has
had a considerable solo career.
Born Sheila Escovedo in Oakland, Calif., 41 years ago today, Sheila E. began playing
drums in Azteca, the Latin jazz-fusion band led by her father. Sheila E.'s dad, Pete
"Coke" Escovedo, also played with Santana. He released two solo albums on Fantasy
Records on which Sheila E. drummed.
The Artist Formerly Known As Prince met Sheila E. in the early '80s and soon employed
her on "Erotic City" (RealAudio excerpt), the B-side to
his 1984 #1 single "Let's Go Crazy." The former Prince was enthusiastic enough about
her work to get Sheila E. signed to Warner Bros. Records.
Her debut LP, Sheila E. in the Glamorous Life (1984), yielded the U.S. top-10
single "The Glamorous Life," written by Prince. The album also spawned the minor hit,
"The Belle of St. Mark," which scored in the U.K. as well. Sheila E. also opened Prince's
Purple Rain tour.
Sheila E. in Romance 1600, on Prince's Paisley Park label (1985), featured the
#11 hit "A Love Bizarre." But two years later, Sheila E.'s eponymous album, featuring the
"Hold Me" single, was less commercially successful. She hooked up with Prince again to
drum for his 1987 Sign O' the Times tour. Sheila E. was seen frequently in the
documentary film about the tour.
Sex Cymbal (1991) was Sheila E.'s next (and most recent) solo album. It featured
production help from her brother Peter Michael, who often has backed Stevie Nicks, a
performer whom Sheila E. herself has supported onstage. Sheila E. also has worked
with such greats as Billy Cobham, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock, Natalie Cole, Don Was,
Babyface and Marvin Gaye.
Sheila E. was nominated for a Grammy Award for "The Glamorous Life," which also
earned her an MTV Video Award.
In recent years, Sheila E. has performed at various AIDS relief benefits with such
mega-stars as Patti LaBelle, Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand.
Other birthdays: Connie Francis, 60; Dionne Warwick, 58; Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers
Band), 55; Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull), 52; Paul Rodgers (Free/Bad Company/Firm), 49;
Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors), 35; Danny Boy (House of Pain), 30; Frank Sinatra,
1915-1998; and Rob Tyner (MC5), 1944-1991.