Sheila E. Brings '80s Vibe To Oscars House Band

Onetime Prince protégé was spotted at the Academy Awards along with composer Hans Zimmer, another bridge to the Pac-Man decade.

It was no surprise that the Oscars wanted to go back to the past in 2012. After all, the show's producers brought Billy Crystal back to host for a ninth time. But it appears that those producers also wanted to travel back to the 1980s for a music flashback, hiring legendary drummer Sheila E. for the Oscars house band.

Yes, the same Sheila E. who rocked the charts in 1984 with her funky single "The Glamorous Life" and taught children of the '80s that the coolest way to play a drum kit was standing up.

Sheila E.'s hit came after years of performing with Prince. He had met E. (real name: Sheila Escovedo) in the late '70s after performing with her father, percussionist Pete Escovedo. Years later, he would invite E. to take part in the Purple Rain recording sessions. She would also perform vocals on "Erotic City," the B-side to Rain's first single, "Let's Go Crazy."

Later in 1984, E. broke off on her own to record "Glamorous Life," which would shoot all the way to #7 on Billboard's Hot 100. She followed "Life" up with another chart hit, "A Love Bizarre," in 1985.

E. wouldn't remain away from Prince for long, returning to join his band the New Power Generation and performing on his late-'80s albums Sign 'O' the Times and Lovesexy.

Her appearance at the 2012 Academy Awards may seem a far jump from these milestones of funk pop, but E. has proved versatile over the years, with appearances ranging from jazz festivals to the NAACP Image Awards to a performance on the "American Idol" season 10 finale. She has also jumped into the reality judging ring, lending her voice to the panel on the 2007 season of "Australian Idol."

Sheila E. was not the only musician with connections to the '80s in the Oscars band on Sunday night. Alongside her was film composer Hans Zimmer, who collaborated on the music for the Oscars ceremony with super producer Pharrell Williams. Zimmer provided the score to 1989 Best Picture "Rain Man" and had a connection the music-video decade that goes back further than Sheila E's. He worked with the new wave band the Buggles, reportedly appearing in the video for "Video Killed the Radio Star," which was the first clip ever shown on MTV.

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