He needed an outlet for this stuff. It was funky, and the funk was good. It was dancy, and dance was what he was known for, but he couldn't put it out himself. He couldn't be labeled as R&B, well, not just straight R&B anyway. He needed something, something that would allow the funk to flow like the chocolatey syrup it was supposed to be. He needed a band to play the best song ever written. So Prince created The Time. Founded out of a funk band called Flyte Tyme, named for a Donald Byrd song, The Time would consist of Jellybean Johnson on drums, Terry Lewis on Bass, Jimmy Jam on Keyboards and Jesse Johnson on Guitar. Not to leave out on the the most provocative and flamboyant frontman's since the Symbol guy himself, Morris Day.
Prince would start working on the first album for Morris Day and The Time before the band had ever seen each other face to face. During two weeks of April 1981, the album, The Time, was recorded in Prince's basement studio, except for the track Oh, Baby which was recorded two years previously in Los Angeles. The credits listed the band members (including Monte Moir on Keys as well) and claimed production was by Morris Day and Jamie Starr, or the P-man in disguise. Prince's voice is audible on the final mix of the album.
Needless to say the Media was the Media and people were wondering if Prince played on the album (in truth he played everything on the album). Band members denied it, as did management saying that Prince only offered guidance, and that Jamie Starr was a real person, just a recluse. The Time would sell well, going Gold in seven months.
In August of 1981, The Time would perform their first "live" appearance for a small group of Warner Bros. executives. Prince would be at the soundboard. At Sam's, a club in Minneapolis, The Time made their first public live show, on October 7, 1981. They would then go on to open for Prince on his 81/82 Controversy tour.
During a break from the tour in December, Prince started working on their second album. He would record two songs but Jerk Out would not be put on the album. He went back to the studio in January to finish out a few more songs for the disc. What Time Is It? was released on August 25, 1982. This time production is done by The Starr*Company, even though it was Prince again. He wrote or co-wrote all the songs but didn't put his name down, Jamie Starr isn't mentioned in the writing credits this time. While Morris does all the lead vocals, Prince's voice can still be heard on the final mix.
As was bound to happen, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Monte Moir were used to writing their own music, and wanted to have a side project for their own creative outlets, as they felt The Time was there more for Morris Day than anything else. Needless to say, Prince was not pleased as he thought this would distract them from The Time.
What Time Is It? would go on to sell 750,000+ copies. As done previously, the band would go out and tour with Prince on his 1999 tour, also dubbed the Triple Threat Tour do to the presence of Vanity 6, a girl group Prince had constructed as well. This tour would not go as smoothly as the previous one did. With the success from 777-9311 and The Walk, not to mentioned their undeniable funk and crazy on-stage antics, Prince was beginning to feel like he was being upstaged, on stage. On December 16, 1982 Prince decided to modify the Time's performance, and had them change a few things. This caused loud protests, not to mention increasing the tension that was growing between the two camps.
Of course, that was nothing like what would happen in the beginning of 1983. Prince would actually demote the band and tell them they were not playing in some of the major cities that they would hit on the tour. They didn't play in LA, New York and Detroit.
On March 24, 1983 Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would no show the concert because they were working on a side project down in Atlanta and were snowed in and couldn't make it to San Antonio for the show. So Jerome Benton, Prince's bassist, put on his bass and hit the stage. However he was unplugged. Prince stood on the sidelines and jammed out all the lines himself. Lisa Coleman replaced Jimmy on the keys. Jimmy and Terry would be fined $3,000 because Prince thought they were caught in the temptations of the female form. When he saw the picture of the two of them in Billboard Magazine with the S.O.S. Band, the two were axed. This would also cause Monte Moir to leave the band.
Work began on the follow up to What Time Is It?, entitled Ice Cream Castle, on March 26, 1983. Prince would work alongside Morris Day and Jesse Johnson on some of the tracks, which would mark the first time actual band members were part of the writing and production process. The trio would hit up the studio after the 1999 tour would end in April of that year. They would work out several tracks, almost half of which would not be released on the album, but would appear on later compilations.
The gaps in The Time's lineup would be filled in over this time. They were joined by Rocky Harris, who took on bass duties, Paul Peterson and Mark Cardenas would takeover on the keys. The new line up would practice together until October 4, 1983, when they made their debut at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Morris Day and The Time jammed out 8 tunes included the uber-funky and now famous with a bunch of stoners who like fart jokes Jungle Love as well as The Bird. This version of The Bird would appear on Ice Cream Castle.
The heat from animosity was beginning to cause the Castle of tasty frozen confection to melt. Even though the show went superbly, Morris Day was not well. He was beginning to lose interest in the band due to Prince's Dr. Doom-like grip on the band and the little money he was receiving from it. When Prince began filming his quasi-autobiographical movie Purple Rain, Morris became uncooperative and late to rehearsals and filmings. When new bass player Rocky Harris showed up late the first day, he was axed, and immediately replaced with Jerry Hubbard.
On June 8, 1984 The Time performed Jungle Love live at the third Minnesota Black Music Awards at the Prom Center in St. Paul. I say The Time here for Morris Day was not present at the event. The vocals were done by Jesse Johnson instead. Later in the month Morris would move out to Santa Monica and sever his ties with Prince and his management, although it would not be announced until after the release of Purple Rain. Ice Cream Castle would be released on July 2, 1984. It would go on to gain platinum status, even tho it was a weaker album than the previous two efforts put forth by the band, due to all the inner turmoil.
The band went on hiatus until October 2, 1987, when they reunited at the 6th Black Music Awards. All of the original band members were present, save Monte Moir, who couldn't make it because of his pregnant wife was expecting soon. Prince, although being inducted into the BMA's Hall of Fame would be at a David Bowie concert instead of attending the event.
In June, 1989, fresh off of the video shoot for Batdance, the best song ever, Prince, along with Morris and with minimal input from Jerome Benton went to work on Corporate World. The album would be completed in September and was planned to be released on November 14. However, Warner Bros. Records wanted to include all the original members in Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain. After a meeting with the Symbolic one, it was decided that Johnson, Moir, Lewis and Jam would all participate and write for new tracks that would appear on the release of Pandemonium.
Pandemonium would feature 3 tracks from Corporate World, including 2 unreleased tracks, one each from the two previous albums. While Corporate World would never be released, Pandemonium hit shelves on July 10, 1990, and did not have Prince's name, nor any false names of his on any of the credits anywhere, even though six songs were written by him. Pandemonium wasn't the straight funk mixed with ballad style of their previous discs. The styles varied more, using distortion and showing off the chops of Jesse Johnson and his guitar. The first single from Pandemonium would hit #9 on the pop charts, however the second would not go anywhere, and the comeback faltered. The album would still sell well.
Friction rose between Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, both of whom wanted to focus more on their own production work. In October, while the band was in New York City for a performance on SNL, they voted Jesse Johnson out of the band. In February of the following year The Time would play two concerts in Japan, but many had felt like the second run was over for the time.
Not much would be heard from The Time as a collective, as they split and focused on their own independent work, until the end of 1999. At the end of that year rumors started to circulate that an album entitled "Old Dogs, New Tricks" was ready to be released, although no details were known. On December 17, 1999 The Time would perform at Prince's Rave Un2 The Year 2000 show in Minneapolis, which would be taped for a December 31st pay per view special.
On June 12, 2001, The Time would perform at the Prince - A Celebration in the Paisley Park Soundstage in Minneapolis. Prince performed on a couple of tracks with the band. Not only this, the Uber-daddy of pure funk George "Funkier than thou" Clinton would appear on stage and lead the Time through a jam of Booty.
On August 24, 2001 Kevin Smith's 5th movie in the New Jersy Trilogy was released. At the end of J&SBSB, the group of main characters get to rock hard as Morris Day and The Time, the greatest band ever with lyrics written by the hand of God himself, perform the booty shaking goodness that is Jungle Love. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to the film. To this day Morris Day is touring with The Time. While not the original line up, they manage to provide plenty of booty shaking funktacular music.