What Time Is It?
Morris Day and the Time need their own proper entry in the category of Minneapolis Funk, even though most music fans associate Day and his cohorts with Prince, and his 1984 movie, “Purple Rain.”
But turn back the clock, and the Time has had a longer history than that. Some of which, however, mirrors the rivalry of the two musicians shown in the film.
Possibly their biggest hit pre-“Purple Rain” is the fun-filled “Get It Up” from 1982. To see it click here:
Longtime Prince associates, lead singer Morris Day and his funky, fly, dance-filled band, The Time, cranked out popular dance hits such as “What Time is it?” “The Bird,” and “Jungle Love.”
Original band members show some pretty iconic musicians, in particular, music producers Terry Lewis and Jimmy "Jam" Harris:
Morris Day: Vocals
Jesse Johnson: Guitar
Terry Lewis: Bass
Jimmy "Jam" Harris: Keyboards
Monte Moir: Keyboards
Jellybean Johnson: Drums
In late 1983, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Monte Moir left the band after a dispute. Additional members were brought in:
Paul Peterson: Keyboards
Mark Cardenas: Keyboards
Jerry Hubbard: Bass
And before you note that possibly the most famous member (to fans, anyway) is missing, just wait a beat. Jerome Benton, that mirror-carrying, Morris Day shadow, dancing member of the band joined The Time in 1983, first serving as bodyguard for Day. He was also responsible for choreographing many of the dance routines. His rapport and antics-filled act is a fan favorite. He is Lewis’ half-brother.
Swagger is The Time’s middle name, with Day as the King, Jerome (who has since left the band) as the jokester and the other band members giving backup attitude. Fans have come to expect their bluster and stage arrogance. During a radio interview to promote a Detroit show, Day and band members did some trash-talking of Prince and his bodyguards to WJLB-FM DJs.
The website Princevault.org documents the rivalry between The Time and Prince’s band, again, sounding similar to the lighthearted jockeying for position you see in the movie, “Purple Rain”:
“A growing rivalry began to develop between The Time and Prince's band as they toured with Prince during his 1981/1982 Controversy Tour. Frustrated with their lack of input on the albums bearing their name and being underpaid, The Time would take to the stage with the purpose of up-showing Prince, much the same way Prince and his band undermined Rick James when they toured with him as James' opening act on the Fire It Up Tour.”
The Time remains a popular, if secondary act. In July 2015, the band played along with other 80s hitmakers Kool and the Gang and Tony, Toni, Tone at the St. Louis state fair. Stltoday.com reviewed the show:
“Day remains a cut-up, hitting the stage while Sylvester Donald, valet and dancer held a mirror up to his face so Day could groom himself before launching into ‘Get It Up,’ ‘Cool’ and ‘Wild and Loose.’
“A lineup of women brought from the audience to show off some of their best moves got a bit out of hand … After their stint, Day dumped them with, ‘Ladies, you ain’t gotta go home but you got to get the hell off my stage.’ ”