Tales From the Tour Bus (2017) s02e07 Episode Script

Morris Day and the Time

1 It bothers me that funk has been relegated by some people alongside the blues, bluegrass, and folk to the fringe in terms of the great American songbook.
It wasn't that long ago that funk was front and center in the popular culture.
And if you need any proof, Exhibit A, Morris Day and The Time.
You may recall their 1984 hit, "Jungle Love.
" ("JUNGLE LOVE" BY MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME.
) I I've been watching you I think I want to know ya Know ya Said I I'm a little dangerous Girl I'm gonna show ya Show ya My jungle love Oh ee oh ee oh I think I want to know ya Know ya Morris Day never intended to be a band leader, much less a movie star, but sometimes life is about timing.
And his was exquisite.
He was just a funky little kid who played his best friend a groove, and became a character that was hard to live up to.
And it all happened at the zenith of funk's spotlight moment.
(THEME MUSIC PLAYING) Oh! We are talking about a time when just straight funk was very popular.
I mean it was new to all of us, every week, man, it was just like, you know, who's king of the hill? JUDGE: The very heyday of funk may have been 1984.
Levi Ruffin was with Rick James, but they weren't alone at the top of the charts.
There was Michael Jackson, Prince, Cameo, Kool and the Gang, The Pointer Sisters, and Morris Day and The Time.
You would finally get a chance to sit down and talk with some of these bands and it was like, Goddamn, you guys are all right.
I mean it happened at, uh, the Grammy's.
Everybody was there, man.
Bootsy Collins, James Brown, you know, The Commodores and The Gap Band, and we're top dog in this bitch, okay? Understand that shit.
JUDGE: In the world of funk, there were always contenders for the crown.
LEVI: So I'm sitting there and there's, uh, Morris Day.
And his agent, I knew her.
"Levi, Levi.
I want you to meet Morris Day.
" I put my hand out, I said, "Yo, man, nice meeting you, man, my name's Levi.
" Motherfucker said he didn't shake my hand.
Motherfucker said, "I'm cool.
" I said, this motherfucker! I mean the nerve, the temerity.
And I said, "I hope you playing a game with me, motherfucker.
" "I'm cool.
" Pfffft.
And the lady that was with him, she said, "Levi, come on, calm down, he's just he's just in character now.
" And I said, "You better get the fuck out of character, or I'm gonna beat your ass.
" I mean, fuck that man.
JUDGE: Morris Day may have been the biggest character in the pantheon of funk.
He cultivated cool from the very beginning in the projects of Springfield, Illinois, listening to a mix of Motown and good old-fashioned gospel.
My grandfather, he was a pimp, so, uh, when I was a little guy, my mom used to dress me just like him.
The church was maybe three blocks, ya know, up the street.
So I would just get on my, uh, Sunday go-to meetin' outfit.
You know, I had two tone shoes on, pinstripe suit, chains on, you know, hat, little cane.
I was, uh, far better dressed than any other kid in the church, so all the older ladies was loving me.
A hint of things to come, if you will.
JUDGE: By his teenage years, his family had moved to Minneapolis, and his musical tastes had evolved from the Motown sound to straight up funk.
MORRIS: Bandstand was just starting to come on.
I would just sit and watch and mimic James Brown, be running around the house in my Fruit of the Looms.
You know, doing the splits and hitting the James Brown.
It was just all, like, magical back then.
JUDGE: Young Morris put down the cane and picked up the drumsticks.
(GRUNTS) JUDGE: He fancied himself a drummer in the beginning.
I started beating up on my mom's pots and pans.
(RATTLING) You know, beating on her couch.
(THUDDING) I started to wear a little hole on the arm of the couch there, and she decided it was time for me to get me some drums.
JUDGE: By high school, he was a left handed drummer looking for a band.
And that's where he met a bass player named Andre Cymone.
He was in a band called Grand Central, and it just so happened they were having trouble with their drummer, so they invited me to come by and audition.
I set my drums up, and there was this weird guy standing in a dark corner staring at me.
He didn't say shit to me.
He just looked at me like he was crazy, and, um, he did that for the next two or three weeks before he really even said anything to me.
JUDGE: That young man was Prince Rogers Nelson, the artist who would come to define Morris Day's life.
He had that mystery thing jumping off at a early age, then he'd go in and out.
You know, he wanted to be funny and laugh, and then all of a sudden, right back into that thing again.
And it wasn't 'til I got in Grand Central that I actually saw him playing.
He was amazing.
I mean, I remember he had the little silver toned guitar and it had a little fuzz tone that stuck inside and stuff.
JUDGE: Jellybean Johnson was another childhood friend and another left handed drummer and one of the first witnesses of the early Prince artistry.
He was this little dude, but at 13 he was scary, ya know.
Prince was hitting Santana guitar solos and stuff like that.
I was just mesmerized.
Prince was just a phenom on guitar, on keyboards, playing drums.
Like, he was in a whole 'nother orbit than everybody else, and it was apparent.
JUDGE: James Harris, also known as Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis were both playing music in high school at the time in Minneapolis.
I mean Prince had, you know no doubt he had the talent.
And Morris was funky.
And Morris was funky.
JUDGE: He may have been funky, but that wasn't enough.
After high school, Morris's mother moved the family to Maryland, and the little pimp started a real job.
I worked a car rental counter at Montgomery Ward's.
I rented cars to people.
And, you know, I'm sitting there, in this boring four or five dollar an hour job, and then I hear Prince's record come on the radio.
("YOU AIN'T GOT NO MONEY" BY PRINCE ON RADIO) (VOLUME INCREASES) I ain't got no money I ain't like those other guys you hang around It's kinda funny That just messed me up.
He did it, you know.
He he did what we always talked about.
And I'm sitting there listening to it, and I'm telling people, "That's that's my buddy.
" You know, they looking at me like, "Yeah, right.
" And I need your love, babe JUDGE: In that moment, Morris Day took control of his life.
MORRIS: So I got back to Minneapolis as fast as I could.
Prince and I had started hanging out.
We laughed, we joked, you know, we talked shit.
And then we would play music, you know, and um So one time we was in a studio, and I fired up a groove.
And Prince heard something in it, and he wanted it.
So he's like, "I'll offer you a music deal or I'll offer you 20K.
" I was like, "I'll take the deal.
" That's how The Time got started, and you know, the rest is history.
JUDGE: The deal came with some strings.
Prince would put the band together and be in control of everything.
At that time, you know, I was the drummer in this band called Flyte Tyme.
Bass was Terry Lewis, keyboards was Jimmy Jam.
Morris knew he wanted to work with us.
Alexander O'Neal from Flyte Tyme was gonna be the lead singer, and I was gonna be the drummer, but Alexander wanted more paper.
Alex basically talked himself out of the group, uh, by telling Prince he needed more money and he needed a swimming pool and he needed a house and he needed all this stuff.
And Prince basically was like, "Okay, you're done.
" So we're looking for a singer, and Prince said, "Why don't you do it?" I was like, "I don't want to do it, I wanna play the drums.
I don't wanna sing, man.
" I said, "I've never fronted a band before, so I don't know what I would do.
" And he said, "Just put your hand in your pocket and be cool.
" I said, "I can do that!" And that was how we got the song "Cool," and then from there everything just totally blew up.
If you wonder how I do it There's just one simple rule I'm just cool - Cool - Uh-oh JUDGE: Cool was recorded in Prince's home studio in April 1981 and released by Morris Day and The Time.
Prince just built it from the ground up.
You know, he's just gonna be cool.
That's what you're gonna do.
And that's what we did.
Prince had this whole vision in his mind how he wanted us to look.
We went to the vintage stores and got clothes.
That's how Morris became, you know, the famous Morris Day that he is today.
JUDGE: It was the character of Morris Day that began to capture the public's imagination in pictures and music videos.
The Time found its trademark move to complement Morris totally by accident, courtesy of Jerome Benton, Terry's brother.
Jerome was always kind of a roadie for Flyte Tyme in the old days, so he was organizing stuff and making sure everything was packed up and, you know, that kind of thing.
He's just one of those guys you can't help but love Jerome.
And he was at every rehearsal.
We used to rehearse in this place called The YAASM, The Young African-American Society of Men, or something like that, I don't know.
Anyway, it was like this little club.
There was a guy named Weaver that ran the place.
Weaver let us come in during the day and rehearse.
First day, we witness Weaver hit this guy - (SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) - (THWACK) and knock him down the street about ten feet.
(BOTH LAUGHING) TERRY: And just knocked him out cold.
So nobody ever wanted to contest No, you didn't mess with Weaver.
There were two things that Weaver said don't mess with in the club: he said, "Don't mess with my juice machine," and he said, "Don't mess with my titty lamps.
" - "Don't break 'em.
" - "Don't break my titty lamps.
" So the titty lamps were these lamps, but off the base of the lamp was these girls, like, with titties, right? So we were like, "Okay, Weaver, cool.
" Jesse was our guitar player, and Jesse's, like, in the juice machine every day.
And he'd pour some water or something in there to make it look like it's the same level.
And we're like going, "Jesse, stay out the juice machine.
" So you know, we started rehearsing, And um, there's a part in one of the songs where I say, "Somebody bring me a mirror.
" On the sides of this club, there were all these big mirrors, like big mirrors, like hanging mirrors, like right? And next thing we see, Jerome goes to the wall, pulls this big ass mirror, puts it in front of Morris.
Morris starts primpin' his hair and doing, you know, fixing his tie.
And Prince falls out on the floor laughing.
And he just goes, "Hahahaha! We're adding that to the show.
That's in, that's in.
" TERRY LEWIS: From that moment on, he became Jerome "The Mirror Man" Benton.
JIMMY JAM: But when Jerome put the mirror back on the wall, - titty lamp got broke.
- (GLASS SHATTERS) MAN: Oh, no! JIMMY JAM: I remember they kind of fixed it, they tried to glue it or whatever.
They turned it, they put it against the wall, whatever.
So Friday night, Weaver walks in.
We said, "Oh, there's Weaver.
Hey, hey, hey, Weaver.
What's goin' on, man?" Weaver goes, "Who been in my juice machine?" We're like, "Hey, I don't know what you're talking about, man.
" He says, "And somebody broke my titty lamp!" (YELLING) The first tour for The Time, we called it The Chitlin' Tour, 'cause it was horrible.
We had this wrecked ass tour bus.
Prince had this beautiful, new all-luxurious shit.
We had this thing that smelled like gasoline.
Every time we'd pull up to a truck stop, the driver had the back open and was tinkering and stuff.
- Hands were always greasy.
- Hands were always greasy.
We had a little messed up little VCR.
We'd put porno tapes on.
One time we was watching this particular porno that I didn't like called "Naked Wish" or something like that.
- JIMMY JAM: That tape was on heavy rotation.
- TERRY: Yeah.
MORRIS: And there was a killing in it, you know, they were, like, cuttin' people and stuff like that, but yet still it was a porno.
And I don't like horror movies, so I was looking through my fingers like, "Nah, not 'Naked Wish, ' not 'Naked Wish'.
" - (WOMAN SCREAMS) - (TAPE STOPS) MORRIS: I had to stop that shit.
JELLYBEAN: I was like, "What the hell, man?" 'Cause that was a great movie.
MORRIS: So I started watching "The Flintstones.
" The pterodactyl, he was doing this thing like that, you know.
And I was like, "That's some cool shit right there.
" And that's how the dance, The Bird, was born.
America, have you heard? I got a brand new dance and it's called The Bird Come on now.
Whawk! Hallelujah! Whoa JUDGE: In 1982, a year after they started, Prince put Morris Day and The Time on his tour as the opening act.
Whoa Whawk! From the very beginning, there was definitely a tension between The Revolution and The Time.
JUDGE: Alan Leeds had some experience as a tour manager by the time he started with Prince.
His first stint on the road was with James Brown.
Hey, kid, five minutes.
The Time really came to those shows every night determined to run The Revolution off the stage.
That was their goal in life, is we're gonna kick them in the ass.
We're gonna show Prince.
And more nights than not, they did that.
We competed about everything: the best car, the best outfit, the best song, you know, the best stage performance.
It was all competition driven.
JUDGE: The rivalry was intense both on and off the stage.
Every night after the show, we had the wildest parties, because, you know, our parties were ghetto parties.
You know, if you went to a Prince party, it was more like a, uh, a suburban party.
Ours was ours was a straight up basement party.
You know, you come in, folks would be naked on the bed, dancin' with the lampshade on their head, and it was just madness.
One night, I, by mistake, got off on The Time's floor.
And I took one step out of the elevator and realized that I wasn't where I was supposed to be.
Then I took another step and said, "Maybe I am where I'm supposed to be.
" 'Cause the hallway was, like, full of cute girls.
So the action was definitely on The Time.
You know, what time is it? It's party time, baby, and and they did.
Certainly the diametric opposite of the uptight Prince floor.
So Prince started bringin' his little ass down there.
He'd come down with Big Chick.
JIMMY JAM: Yeah, the bodyguard.
TERRY: Bodyguard carrying him or whatever.
- And, um - He thought He thought that everybody was gonna stop and go, "(GASPS), Oh Prince!" - People didn't care.
- TERRY: They didn't care.
And so he would get upset sometimes.
If nobody cared, then he would just leave.
JUDGE: A sense of resentment on both sides began to fester, and soon created a conflict that could not be overcome.
Prince had told us we weren't allowed to produce any outside acts, but we had gotten the gig producing the SOS band in Atlanta.
We got caught in a snowstorm down there and missed a gig in San Antonio with The Time.
And of course, Prince comes to me before the show and says, "Jellybean, where's your buddies?" JUDGE: Prince himself helped cover The Time's missing bandmates, playing bass behind the curtains on the side of the stage, as Jerome made his first appearance with an actual instrument out front.
And so we got through the gig and everything, but the last two shows, everybody is there.
You could just feel the tension, you could feel that something's gonna happen out there.
You know, the tour is over.
The tour ended and maybe six weeks later, Terry gets a call from Prince, and Prince goes, "Meet me at Sunset Sound at 5:00.
" So when we got there, we walk into the room.
It's Prince, Morris, Jesse, and then myself and Terry.
So we sit down, and Prince just goes, "I told you not to produce outside bands, "and you guys produced the SOS band, so you're fired.
" I was like, "Pffft, okay," and I got up and walked out the room.
And you know, the crazy thing about it, it's Morris's band, but Prince did the firing.
I know after that meeting when we got fired, I know that Morris, like, just shut down and just disappeared.
That of course was the turning point for the whole band, and it must have been such a hard time for Morris, because at this point, Prince controlled his whole life.
I mean, imagine what it's like to realize one day that your success is based upon playing a role that Prince wrote for you, just as sure as if he were scripting a film.
JUDGE: Not long after Prince fired Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they became big time producers in their own right, working with artists like Janet Jackson.
And Prince, well, he indeed scripted that film.
He called it "Purple Rain.
" The character Prince had created could not be bothered to pay attention to the shooting schedule.
Morris was being very uncooperative during the making of "Purple Rain.
" There were days where he just wouldn't show up.
It's not that he couldn't, he just was being an asshole.
And of course Prince was having a fit, but he's trying to make a movie, so he's sending me.
"Go find Morris.
What's wrong with him?" So Craig Rice, the A.
D.
and I, we would have to actually go out to find him.
We'd have to get in a car and backtrack where he last was.
And then I would call somebody else and they'd say, "Well, he was at this house last night.
" So we go there first and find out where he went and who he went with.
Then go the next place, and then the next place, and then the next place.
Once we finally found out where he was at, we literally had to physically get him up and get him into the car and bring him here and we'll work on him once he gets here.
You know, we'll get him dressed, we'll get him his lines, get him into makeup, - and then push him out.
- Action! So that's what we did more than a few times.
To be honest, I don't really remember all of the, uh, details of it.
I just you know, I'm not a workaholic.
I don't like getting up at 4:00 in the morning.
I might like going to bed at 4:00 in the morning, but I don't feel like they was respecting my time on set.
The tension between him and Prince at this point was boiling over, so one day we were in the dressing room, and Morris finally showed up.
And Prince got in his face, ya know, and Morris shoved him.
And inside I'm like, "Yeah, you should whoop his ass," you know, but I'm thinkin' if he do that, I know Prince: we're done, we're gonna be done totally.
So I grab Morris and pull him back, and Big Chick grabbed Prince.
So, a lot of cussing going back and forth and stuff, but uh, you know, Morris also know he needed to do this movie.
Just like I know we needed to do it.
JUDGE: The two old friends barely needed to act.
Their rivalry in real life spilled out onto the screen.
At the same time, Prince began to plot the next chapter for his creation, The Time.
Finally, Prince got pissed he he lost his patience.
He went out and found new guys to replace Jam and Lewis and he brought them into rehearsal.
And Morris wasn't even there.
Morris wasn't even coming to rehearsal.
That was the last nail in the coffin as far as Morris was concerned.
And of course, he went along with the program and did "Purple Rain" with the new band, but as soon as the film was in the can, they were done.
They did one show with that unit, the "Purple Rain" version of The Time, at First Avenue to basically introduce the band.
At the end of that show, Morris stormed off the stage, everybody else went to the dressing room to open up a bottle of beer or whatever.
"Hey, good show.
" Morris didn't take his coat off, didn't stop and say a word to the band.
He walked down the steps, through that room, into his car, and left.
And that was it.
That was that was it.
JUDGE: The film was released in the middle of summer during the heyday of straight funk in 1984 and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The best reviews may have been for the character Prince had dreamed up first: his nemesis in the film and in real life, Morris Day.
I did well within the movie, so, you know, that was my revenge.
JUDGE: Morris Day escaped the character after "Purple Rain" and went solo.
He also kept acting, or at least he was offered more parts to play cool.
The original members of The Time got back together in 1990 and scored a hit with "Jerk Out," but the magic of the era of straight funk was gone.
Nearly thirty years after his breakup with Prince, they reunited for one last show.
You know, two years ago he calls us and he says, "I want you guys to come and do a show.
" I'm like, "Dude send me the money first.
" So, he sent the money! I was like, okay.
So, anyway, we do the show, and Prince was in the audience.
You know, he partied, he blew kisses to the stage, and he laughed and all of that.
And then after the show, I'm walking around Paisley Park and I pass this dark ass hallway.
And um, I hear this clapping like (CLAPPING) And true to form, Prince walks out of the shadows, and he's like, "Bravo! Bravo! You still got it!" And we sat and we talked and (CHOKING UP) He gave me a hug.
He said, "I love you.
" He's never said that.
And that was the last time I saw him.
JUDGE: Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental overdose at Paisley Park, his home in Minneapolis on April 21, 2016.
He was 57 years old.
This song is dedicated to my friend and brother, Prince Rogers Nelson.
A part of me left with you And the other pieces are broken too And I know you're somewhere over the rainbow Over that rainbow 'Cause I know it's flooding from my heart It's flooding, it's flooding from my heart One love.
(THUNDER) Rest in peace, my brother.
(THUNDERING) (THEME MUSIC PLAYING) Skiddle-dee-dee It's about that funk thing I got a boom-boom in my ear Need more, need more, need more I need a little more So that I can hear