3rd Eye Girl, a New Backing Band, Will Join Prince in Tempe

Prince's relationship with his backing bands has always been a little more fraught than, say, Buddy Holly and the Crickets or Dave Matthews and Band. There's been several of them, for one thing -- the Revolution and the New Power Generation, along with associates like Morris Day and The Time and Apollonia 6 -- and several of them have become notable in their own rights.

And they're all just so Prince; they're named things like the New Power Generation, for one thing, and they speak in weird Prince numerals and portmanteaux.

Joining him for his four shows at the Marquee Theatre this week is his latest band, 3rd Eye Girl, which isn't just backing him up but also serves as the name of his latest official website and the vessel for the release of these latest tour dates. So who-and-or-what is 3rd Eye Girl?

1. They're the backing band for this non-standard version of "Let's Go Crazy."

Just in case you ever wondered what it would sound like if the elevator did bring you down.

2. They're a weird social media experiment.

Early this year a Twitter account under the name 3rd Eye Girl began posting Prince bootlegs, replacing I with eye, and doing all sorts of other things 2 make people believe they were part of the Prince camp.

Read More: Five Reasons You'll Want To Have Seen Prince at the Marquee Theatre

Then they posted a cease-and-desist letter, ostensibly from the notoriously Internet-piracy-averse man himself.

Then they continued to tweet as 3rd Eye Girl. This sort of viral marketing campaign would seem cheap or passé in the hands of most multi-multi-millionaire recording artists, but Prince has enough outsider-artist cred left to pull it off; you never get the feeling, while he's buying up weird domain names and setting up Twitter identities, that the ideas originated with a bunch of Crispin Porter + Bogusky interns in sexy beanbag chairs saying "branding" a lot.

3. They're just three women who were plucked from relative obscurity to be Prince's new backing band.

The Oregonian tracked them down earlier this month and got the 3rd Eye Girl story, which is a little less mysterious than it seems inside the Prince Reality Distortion Field. Separately, they're Ida Nielsen, Hannah Ford, and Donna Grantis, musicians who are very excited to work with Prince.

Collectively, they're 3rd Eye Girl, yet another piece of Prince's exceptionally Prince-like musical universe.

Prince and 3rd Eye Girl are scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, and Wednesday, May 1, at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Tickets are available here.

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Dan Moore