“THE TIME: WHAT TIME IS IT?”
Copyright © ssjr 2013.
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE ARTWORK
The Time (now The Original 7ven) is an American funk and dance-pop ensemble formed in Minneapolis in 1981. They are close Prince associates and arguably the most successful artists who have worked with him.
PRINCE ASSEMBLES THE FUNK
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, Prince decided to put together a pop-funk group that would serve as an outlet for material in the vein of his own early albums, while he explored other genres and styles in his own career.
The band went on to release four albums (mostly performed by Prince + singer Morris Day alone) during the course of their main career, each a solid slice of jammy, rock-infused 1980s funk, generally light and humorous in tone, strongly influenced by Parliament, James Brown, Sly – and, of course, Prince. Although they scored numerous hits (including “The Bird”, “Jungle Love”, “777-9311”, “Get It Up”, “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”, “The Walk” and “Cool”, mostly on the R&B charts) during the early 1980s, they never approached superstardom.1 But as good as they were, they weren’t allowed to play a note on their debut album. Prince recorded all the music himself, crediting the production to Jamie Starr and Morris Day, who at least was allowed to sing on the record, but was required to follow Prince’s guide vocals note-for-note.
A growing rivalry began to develop between the two groups as The Time toured with Prince and his band during his 1982 Controversy Tour. Frustrated with their lack of input on the albums bearing their name and at being underpaid, The Time would take to the stage with the purpose of showing up Prince, in much the same way that Prince and his band had undermined Rick James when they had toured as James’ opening act (unlike what happened during Rick James’ Light it Up tour, this time people didn’t leave before the headliner, Prince, finished his set). The tension came to a head on the final night of the tour in Cincinnati during the Time’s set when Prince and some of his band threw eggs at their supporting act from offstage. Things further escalated after The Time’s performance when guitarist Jesse Johnson was handcuffed to a wall-mounted coat rack and further humiliated. Prince demanded no interruptions during his performance, but as soon as he left the stage, a food fight erupted. When the battle continued at the hotel, Prince made Morris Day pay for all damages, claiming that he had started the whole thing.