The Time Biography

This Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA-based funk outfit enjoyed a string of inventive hits in the early 80s that, for verve, style, and wit, often matched the output of their mentor Prince. Flamboyant singer Morris Day (Springfield, Illinois, USA) played drums in Prince’s junior high school band, Grand Central. After several years on the local R&B circuit he hooked up with Prince and the highly popular Minneapolis funk band Flyte Tyme who, after singer Alexander O’Neal was deemed surplus to requirements, were renamed the Time. The line-up on 1981’s self-titled debut comprised Day (vocals), Jimmy ‘Jam’ Harris (b. James Harris III, 6 June 1959, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; keyboards), Jellybean Johnson (percussion/drums), Terry Lewis (b. 21 November 1956, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; bass), Jesse Johnson (b. 29 May 1960, Rock Island, Illinois, USA; guitar) and Monte Moir (keyboards). The album, which was produced by Prince under the pseudonym Jamie Starr, set out their blueprint: infectious dance-funk workouts often spilling over into extended jams. The band enjoyed immediate success on the R&B chart with the hits ‘Get It Up’ (number 6), ‘Cool (Part 1)’ (number 7), and ‘777-9311’ (number 2). The latter was taken from their brilliant follow-up, What Time Is It?, on which their sound was honed to a razor-sharp edge and Day’s rampant, preening sex-machine persona was just about kept in check. Moir, Harris and Lewis had left by the time of 1984’s Ice Cream Castle, with Jerome Benton (Lewis’ half-brother) and Paul ‘St. Paul’ Peterson joining the line-up as replacements. In a busy year, Day starred in Prince’s highly successful movie Purple Rain. The Time also appeared in the movie, while two of their featured songs, ‘Jungle Love’ and ‘The Bird’, entered the US Top 40. By the time the latter charted, however, the band had split-up. Day and Johnson concentrated on solo careers, with the former topping the R&B chart and reaching the US Top 30 in 1988 with ‘Fishnet’, and the latter enjoying a string of Top 10 R&B hits. In the meantime, their former bandmates Harris and Lewis had established themselves as black music’s leading production team under the title, Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis, enjoying particular success with Janet Jackson in the late-80s. Nevertheless, the original line-up (plus Benton) re-formed in 1990 to record the excellent Pandemonium, which spawned the US Top 10 hit, ‘Jerk-Out’, and became their highest charting album. Various members have continued to meet up to play live dates and jam in the studio.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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