Raphael Saadiq gathers Tony! Toni! Toné! to tour once again

By Chicago 4 Min Read

NEW YORK — D’Wayne Wiggins and Timothy Christian Riley didn’t realize that Raphael Saadiq was planting the seeds for a Tony! Toni! Toné! reunion when he arranged a photo shoot earlier this year.

“He said a few times before, so we never paid that much attention to it until this fool put up a big-ass billboard in Oakland, and I had to see it through social media,” said vocalist and bass guitarist Wiggins, who wondered if the image was Photoshopped. “I thought someone was playing tricks, morphing our picture.”

Saadiq, the lead singer and guitarist of the beloved R&B group, gathered the trio together, free of any outside influence.

“I didn’t tell any of the managers or team or anybody because I just wanted it to be us. … I wanted to be in a room where the only power structure was one, two and three,” said Saadiq of his bandmates who are also family: Wiggins is his brother and Riley is their cousin.

Cut to last month, when Tony! Toni! Toné! kicked off its Raphael Saadiq Revisits Tony! Toni! Tone! Just Me And You Tour 2023, the first road trip featuring the three original members in nearly 30 years.

Tony! Toni! Tone!

Raphael Saddiq Revisits Tony! Toni! Tone!

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 12

Where: Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State

Tickets: Sold out

“It’s been really cool, like rehearsals and the actual shows, just playing together again on a stage,” said Riley, who plays drums and keyboard. “A lot of times, we do production and studio work. But just actually being together, you feel the energy, you feel the love.”

But that’s not all: The Tonyies, as they call themselves, are planning a new project.

“There’s going to be another album … but I thought we need to really hone in on what we’re doing for touring and then go home and then take like two days off, and then start on the album,” said Saadiq, who once was a member of Prince’s touring band.

“We got a lot of material, and now we just want to make sure that we put out the right energy through our music,” added Wiggins.

Blending R&B, jazz and traces of gospel, the Oakland, California, natives burst onto the music scene with their 1988 debut album, “Who?” with songs like “Baby Doll” and “Little Walter.” But it was their 1990 New Jack Swing-infused “Feels Good” record that gave the group mainstream success, peaking at No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

The blood relatives also couldn’t predict how their success would affect their relationship. The Tonyies went their separate ways after their fourth album, 1996’s platinum-selling “House of Music.” Fame, finances, miscommunication and creative differences were unsustainable for the group. However, Saadiq is hesitant to use the word “breakup.”

“I didn’t call them and go, ‘I quit! I’m mad at you guys!’ It wasn’t even like that. We’d been around each other our whole life,” said Saadiq. “What everybody saw as a breakup wasn’t really a breakup; we just noticed that we weren’t making music at that time.”

Wiggins and Riley toured under the group’s name between 1998 and 2018, with Amar Khalil taking over lead singing duties. Saadiq achieved remarkable solo success with five solo studio albums, fashioning hits like “Ask of You,” “Be Here” featuring D’Angelo, “Get Involved” with Q-Tip and “Love That Girl.”

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