Morris Day and the Time Tickets

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The Time is a musical group that was formed in 1981. Featuring a funky sound merging pop with dance music, soul music, and more, they are prominent proteges of Prince and arguably his most successful side project. A version of the outfit called 'Morris Day and the Time' still tour to this day. The band was assembled under a clause in Prince's contract with Warner Bros. that allowed him to recruit and produce other artists for the label. Inspired by the 1980 film 'The Idolmaker', a work about the life of music promoter and producer Bob Marucci (the svengali behind such 50s/60s teen idols as Fabian and Frankie Avalon), Prince decided to put together a pop-infused funk group that would serve as a pet project and an outlet for further hits and material in the vein of his own early albums. Prince had the intent to explore other musical genres and go for a more avant-garde ethos in his own career. By 1981, he had built 'The Time' out of an existing Minneapolis funk unit called 'Flyte Tyme' (from the Donald Byrd song), which featured Jellybean Johnson on drums, Jimmy Jam and Monte Moir on keyboards, and Terry Lewis on bass. To this base, musicans Jesse Johnson (on guitar) and Morris Day (on lead vocals) came in. Day was a childhood friend of Prince and was drawn from another local band called 'Enterprise'. Prince had used an Enterprise song, titled "Partyup", on his 'Dirty Mind' album, and his selection of Day was essentially a reward; he had originally tapped Alexander O'Neal, yet another player in the Minneapolis funk scene, for the vocalist slot yet that had fallen through. "Valet" Jerome Benton also became a member of The Time, despite not playing an instrument. His main contributions are backing vocals and various on-stage antics. The band went on to release four albums during the course of their main career, each being welcomed by man critics as a solid slice of jammy, rock-infused 80s funk. In contrast to the spiritually and ideologically charged nature of much of Prince's work at that time, The Time's albums seemed generally light and humorous in tone, though the first two of which were composed and arranged entirely by Prince. The band scored numerous hits over the years. These include "The Bird", "Jungle Love", "777-9311", "Get It Up", "Gigolos Get Lonely Too", and "Cool". Still, despite burning up the R&B charts in the early 80s, the group never approached true super-stardom. Nor did they develop a reputation for innovation or artistic brilliance in the manner of Prince, with tensions building between the desires of the band members to spread their wings and the heavy-handed control of their famous manager. In terms of raw talent, Prince's associates clearly had much to offer. In 1983, musicians Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had begun writing songs and branching out into production work of their own (such as working with SOLAR to produce Klymaxx and with Tabu Records to produce the S.O.S. Band), got stranded in Atlanta by a blizzard and failed to make it to a concert in San Antonio, Texas. The two were fined and then fired. Whether their firing had that much to do with the incident per se or seemed inevitable due to their increasing independence has never been clear, but the musicians went on to successful production careers involving them with multiple soul and funk artists. Monte Moir took the opportunity to leave as well, and he would also work with Jam and Lewis. The three were replaced with Mark Cardenez, Paul Peterson (redubbed St. Paul), and Jerry Hubbard. This new line-up were featured in Prince's Purple Rain film. The Time rode the wave of popularity created by the movie and hit singles "Jungle Love" and "The Bird" and were household names in 1984. It was Day who left next after arguments with Prince, choosing to pursue a solo career in 1985 after a successful acting turn in Purple Rain. Soon thereafter, with Jesse Johnson also opting to go solo, the band disintegrated but several members (Benton, Johnson and Peterson) were reformed into a new short-lived project called The Family. Meanwhile, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went on to become one of the most successful songwriting and production teams of the 80s and 90s. In 1990, Benton and the original six members of the band reunited for the Graffiti Bridge movie and soundtrack, as well as a new album called Pandemonium. This spawned their highest selling single, "Jerk Out" and the album featured more input from the band than any other Time album. The reunion was short-lived, however - infighting within the band caused them to disband once again. Morris and Jerome have since remained a team, with both trying out some small acting roles over the next few years. Several members of The Time reunited in 1996, added a few new recruits and have remained together since. This version of the band can be seen in the Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and tours frequently to this day. The band is usually billed as "Morris Day and The Time". A fifth Time album is rumored to have been completed in the late 90s, recorded with the new lineup but production and coordination with Prince has prevented its release. The title Old Dogs, New Tricks was the working title. A 2004 album attributed to Morris Day called It's About Time contains a few new tracks written and performed by Day and a number of live performances by The Time. In 2011, the original version of the band reformed as a new entity, The Original 7ven, in order to release a new album. Issues with Prince stalled out the group's momentum, even though 'Condensate' and its single, "#Trendin", both received critical praise. This version of the band had disbanded totally by 2013, Morris Day resumed touring as "Morris Day and The Time". From late 2014 onward, the band shot back into international attention when genre-hopping British artist Mark Ronson used The Time's work as inspiration for his gigantic hit "Uptown Funk" (also known as "Uptown Funk (Feat. Bruno Mars)" due to Bruno Mars' involvement). After receiving the prestigious best British Single Award at the 2015 BRIT ceremony, Ronson directly thanked Morris Day and The Time alongside artists such as James Brown and others on air for trailblazing the "Uptown Funk" sound. In the past several months, a sort of 'halo effect' has allowed The Time to blast back into the mainstream and appear on programs such as 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'. 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