funk music

Friday, August 1, 2014

Jesse Johnson Wakes Up Dead

Posted by funkatop On October - 28 - 2013 2 COMMENTS
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Ex-Morris Day and The Time guitarist Jesse Johnson apparently died yesterday morning when his Facebook account showed the following message:

Guitarist Jesse Johnson, was found deceased in his Hollywood, California residence earlier yesterday. The apparent cause was not clear and no official statement, regarding the musician’s cause of death, has not, nor will be made, until the Los Angeles County coroner’s office has conducted a full autopsy and toxicology test have been completed. - CNN-Natalia R. Phiffer 10/27/2013

This obviously sent fans into an absolute craze until many hours later when Jesse Johnson quickly set the record straight;

Jesse Johnson dead

 

Luckily for all Morris Day and The Time aka The Original 7ven fans, he’s still alive and kicking. And although he’s not playing with them anymore, the good news is that Jesse will be on D’Angelo‘s new album, but the way the post was worded made it sound as if he’s recording a new album and also a new D’Angelo album. Could Jesse Johnson fans be getting a double dose coming soon? Oh man we hope so.

But the best news of all is that he not dead.

Exclusive Interview with The Time’s Tori Ruffin

Posted by funkatop On March - 10 - 2013 3 COMMENTS
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Morris Day & The Time guitarist Tori Ruffin speaks candidly about The Original 7ven, Prince, Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown and his own project Freak Juice.

Mr. Christopher sits down with Tori Ruffin for a late night chat about the future of The Time and his new passion.

Has Morris Day & The Time Thrown In The Towel?

Posted by funkatop On December - 17 - 2012 5 COMMENTS
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time-dead

Morris Day and the boys affectionately known as The Time have received a lot of harsh criticism as of late, but for the moment, it doesn’t appear that they have any desire to generate any buzz for themselves or even bother with performing their most recent songs. Essentially committing themselves to being a 80′s band and solely resting on their past accomplishments. A problem so prevalent that most members would rather walk away than go that route.

The excitement surrounding their reunion was over the top when all seven original members (Morris Day, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Monte Moir, Jellybean Johnson, and Jerome Benton) were back on the roster which only meant that the Purple Rain era fans were in the closest thing to musical nirvana just short of if Prince were to join forces with the original Revolution again. We can dream.

jesse-johnsonHowever, things quickly began to unravel as Prince refused to allow The Time to use the band name which forced them into a name change of The Original 7ven. Then it began to get increasingly worse, as Jesse Johnson departed for unknown reasons.  The departure led to a lot of speculation from the public until the remaining members of The Time issued a statement to calm some of the falsehoods but waited close to two months to say anything at all.

Shortly afterwards, Jesse Johnson released his own statement about the situation explaining that the lack of show dates and stagnant activity of the band was simply unbearable for him.  Then it quickly became public knowledge that Jesse had jumped ship to go on tour with D’Angelo who was actively touring including major performances like Questlove’s Superjam at Bonnaroo.

As time continued, various members then also jumped ship including Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and for some shows even Jerome Benton which proved to be a huge shock to the system since he was always a staunch supporter of almost all of The Time iterations. What’s interesting is that there have been current shows appearing over the past few months under the name of Morris Day and The Time, which begs to question exactly what was involved with Prince‘s refusal to let them use the band name now that they appear to be able to use it again. What exactly were those stipulations? One might guess that The Time was his creation that was playing his music and since The Original 7ven was playing their own material on the new album, he wasn’t going to take a marketing risk. But now that they’re back to playing his songs, they once again have his blessing.

What may be even more perturbing for Time fans is that the current touring lineup is still doing the same show that they have for years with very little change to the song lineup. It’s a show packed wall to wall with their hits (Prince’s hits), the same comedy bits, and very little change to even dialogue with exception to their new line, “We don’t sweat, we condensate”.  To make matters worse, their current setlist fail to include any new songs from their last two albums (Pandemonium and Condensate). Even Jerk Out which was a staple of their set in the past was noticeably absent in a breakdown of a recent concert review.  Here is the last posted setlist;

Morris Day And The Time - Concert Photography by Erik EikenberryGet it up
Cool
Wild & Loose
The Stick
Shake!
Fishnet
Oak Tree
777-9311
Girl
Gigolos get lonely too
Ice Cream Castles
The Walk
The Bird
(encore) Jungle Love

As for the band lineup itself, there were a lot of changes to fill the shoes of the departed original players although most of the players have served in this capacity over the years until The Original 7ven.  Even Tori Ruffin was slated to fill the empty slot left by Jesse Johnson until the other members began to drop off as well. Now most of the reserves are back leaving the current lineup as;

Morris Day -Vocals
Jellybean Johnson – Drums
Monte Moir – Keyboards
Tori “Freak Juice” Ruffin – Guitar
Ricky “Freeze” Smith - Bass
Jeff McNeely – Keyboards
Sylvester Donald – Valet and Dancer

While the live performances are still fun to witness and serve as a lightning bolt of funky joy for fans of the band, it is disheartening to watch the talent pool dwindle down to a lounge act playing the same songs repeatedly at every show and re-enacting the same show every year after year.  The biggest problem with this sleight of hand is that they have a huge library of amazing new material that would find a lot of love from their existing fanbase and even a place in the hearts of newer audiences.

The Original 7ven aka Morris Day and The TimeSongs like Skillet, Condensate, Chocolate, Donald Trump (Black Version), Role Play, Blondie, Sick, Pandemonium, Cadillac, AYDKMN, It’s Your World, and #Trendin’ (which did see some stage time for a few shows and then disappeared).  These unplayed incredible funky newer songs and riffs from their last two albums could almost constitute their own show. Mix in some of the bigger hits to fill it out and you’d have everyone drained. It’s as if they’ve dismissed their music from the last 20 years. The albums they slaved over have been completely dismissed even among critical acclaim in exchange to simply be nothing more than a jukebox of the 80′s which has been leaving fans annoyed and disappointed.  And to rub salt into the wound, they traded in their own songs in order to solely play someone else’s.

It doesn’t take a deep dive on Google to find a lot of unhappy fans who have simply laid down their mirrors and Stacy Adams black and white toed wingtips. It truly is a shame to watch a conglomeration of incredibly talented musicians dwindle away to rest on their past accomplishments that weren’t even truly theirs to begin with. For musicians like Jesse Johnson, it was simply too painful to watch and unbearable to succumb to stagnant growth and be okay with living in the past, playing the material of a man who refused to even let them use the band name that served as the umbrella for his own hit factory.

This site will always support funk music in all its forms, and we will always offer our love and support to Morris Day and the boys, but if no one is willing to call them out on this musical travesty, the fans will have nothing more than what they’ve already received. The Condensate album seemed as if there was a new leaf being turned, but when the live shows immediately following the album release only showcased one song from the album in the entire setlist, it was a major disappointment to millions of fans.  The Time might never reach the echelon that they once had achieved if they don’t offer their audience a new experience beyond changing up the in-between song chatter. There is no reward in it for those that have stood by faithfully for decades.

While the new album was an incredible artistic offering, there simply was no support for it and that is a huge shame. Their refusal to grow and run with that incredible boost of marketing momentum they had gathered is what caused most of the original members to jump ship.  If The Time wishes to gain new followers and truly thrill the faithful, they’re going to have come with it and give the audience something to talk about and as of right now, it only looks like we’re watching them fade away and that is truly a travesty.

So the question remains, is The Time dead? We certainly hope not, but they need a wake up call. If you’ve never seen them live, you owe it to yourself to see them and it’s worth the price of admission. But if you have seen them in the past, you’ve already seen what they’re offering now and you should be mad as hell.

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D'Angelo's U.S. Show & New Album

The news for D’Angelo just keeps on coming and it’s very exciting. On top of receiving news of D’Angelo working on a brand new album thanks to our good friend The Roots drummer Questlove (via tweet), D’Angelo decided to take some of the new songs and also past material on the road for some European dates.  Now D’Angelo has added his name to the lineup at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans on July 6th which will be his first U.S. show in over a decade.

D’Angelo decided that the time was finally right to release the hounds stateside and adds his name to an amazing billing which already includes Trey Songz, Pointer Sisters, Keyshia Cole, Charlie Wilson, just on that Friday night when D’Angelo is performing. The festival runs July 6th through July 8th.

There was also some excitement some months back when he added Jesse Johnson to his European lineup (Morris Day and The Time‘s guitarist) after Jesse walked out on The Time due to their refusal to hit the road and support The Time reunion. So a question on everyone’s mind is whether Jesse Johnson will be a part of the mix at the U.S. appearance.

The other question would be whether or not this signals a U.S. tour for D’Angelo to support the upcoming new album and exactly when that album will see the light of day.

So the only thing left to do is enjoy some of D’Angelo‘s 2012 Eurpoean performance below. Because as far as getting answer to those questions, we’re pretty sure that people have learned by now that it will be on his own schedule. Who’s excited?! If you need tickets, this is where you go.

Jesse Johnson Comes Clean About Split From The Time

Posted by funkatop On February - 10 - 2012 7 COMMENTS
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Jesse Johnson

After many months of people speculating about Jesse Johnson‘s departure from The Time (aka The Original 7ven), Jesse finally spoke out about the true reasoning of why he left.  It apparently had to do with a lack of touring to support their efforts and very simply, not getting paid. This was the statement that Jesse posted on his Facebook account yesterday;

“I was on a conference call with the O-7 and I asked the following questions in early December; ” Do we have any shows for December? answered “No” I continued to ask the the same question regarding January and Febuary, and I received the same answer, which was a resounding “NO” I then asked when was the the first royalty accounting coming up? And the answer was, ” I don’t know” and with Allah as my witness, I respectfully made the announcement that I could no longer AFFORD to participate in an organization that personally cost me thousands of dollars (Gear, Clothing, Travel, etc…) and further more shows no signs of taking premptive measures (Sponsers, Touring, etc…) in helping to see a return on our investment. So help me god, the people on whatever sites that state they were not informed of exit should feel very, very ashamed of them selves to seek sympathy from unknowing fans. Am I angry, I feel sad for people that have to lie to seek unwarranted sympathy. Sad! Do ever post or ask me at anytime or place about this subject.”

That being said, we are SO happy that Jesse clarified what the issue was.  He also announced that he had just arrived in Amsterdam to start the tour with D’Angelo as previously announced. Which also means that you should start seeing him pop up on the videos and audio mixtapes that D’Angelo likes to release occasionally.  We can’t wait to hear Jesse cut loose on Chicken Grease!

Much thanks to Jesse Johnson for clarifying the story for the fans. You are an amazing guitarist and we will always support your efforts no matter where you are! Keep on keeping on!  Speculate no more Morris Day and The Time fans!

The Time Finally Talks About Jesse Johnson Leaving

Posted by funkatop On January - 19 - 2012 4 COMMENTS
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Morris Day and The Time aka The Original 7ven and now aka The Original 6ix have finally broke their silence on the departure of Jesse Johnson. Long story short, the band was apparently blindsided by Jesse Johnson’s announcement to leave the band, but they’ve decided to continue playing as a band and will simply replace Jesse. Here is their official statement posted on their website;

ORIGINAL 7VEN STATEMENT REGARDING
JESSE JOHNSON

FROM:
MORRIS DAY
JIMMY JAM
TERRY LEWIS
JELLYBEAN JOHNSON
MONTE MOIR
JEROME BENTON

Before we address the topic on most everyone’s mind, please let us do two things.

First of all let us begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year! Although our good wishes may be a bit tardy in coming they are nonetheless sincere.

Second let us thank everyone for their overwhelming support of our Original 7ven project.

This project never would have happened without your continued encouragement and blessings.

Now to address the rumors regarding Jesse’s departure from the band.

On the morning of December 15th we were awakened to the news that Jesse had issued a message on his Facebook page which said the following:

“Hello Babies, I don’t really think I’ll be performing with the Original 7 (or The Time if your nasty) any more! We simple don’t see eye to eye on anything. Love the guys, but I feel in my heart it’s “Time” to walk away while we’re all still friends. May Peace be you.

PeaceLove,

Jesse Johnson Bey”

We were all surprised to read Jesse’s Facebook that morning because the 7 of us had spent nearly 3 hours on a conference call the afternoon before, and his desire to leave was not part of the discussion at that time.

On that call we were in fact making plans for the future. And while not everyone was in total agreement on all points, we felt like everyone was committed to this project for the long haul.

Out of respect to Jesse, and because of the holidays we decided it best to take a moment to catch our breath before making any decisions about our future.

While we know that this “silence” was frustrating to everyone who cared (mostly our fans), we believed a few weeks wasn’t too much to ask after 30 years of making music together. While we don’t have all the answers, we have come to the following conclusions:

1. We respectfully accept Jesse’s announcement to not perform with the Original 7ven. His desire to walk away “while we’re still all friends” is admirable, and we support and wish Jesse nothing but the best in all his future endeavors.

2. Jesse will not be “replaced” because there is no way to replace a family member, but we will begin the search to fill the now empty guitar spot in the band. Stay tuned.

3. While we’re not prepared to disclose any detailed plans at this time, please know that “the remaining 6ix” remain committed to this project for the long run and we look forward to seeing each and every one of you on the road this year!

In the meantime we thank YOU our fans for your continued belief, patience, support, and love.

Best,

Mo, Jam, T, Bean, Monte & Rome

Condensate - The Original 7ven (aka The Time)

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The Time Without Jesse Johnson

It’s been no surprise that The Original 7ven aka Morris Day and The Time have dropped off the map and rightfully so.  It’s tough to call yourself The Original 7ven when one of the seven decides to walk away as Jesse Johnson up and left The Time yet again after there was much talk about an internal blowout.

Many people have speculated that Jesse Johnson insisted on the band relinquishing their ties with Prince because of his “heavy handed” management of the band back in the day which crested with his refusal to not let the band even use the name.  A thorn in Jesse’s paw as made evident in videos and interviews.

The band didn’t help the situation much by playing a handful of shows that all featured the classic hits from the 80′s (Jungle Love, The Bird, 777-9311, COOL, etc.) and only playing one song from the new album (#Trendin) during the entire concert performances.

Since that time, things fell apart even more as D’Angelo announced his band lineup for his European tour which included, you guessed it, Jesse Johnson on guitar.  That tour runs through mid-February, so if there are any “make up sessions” in the future, they won’t happen until at least late February or March of this year.

Jesse served as the primary source of information on his departure via his Twitter and Facebook page while The Time stayed dreadfully silent trying to do damage control. But they hinted at a resolution on their Facebook page on December 30th when they stated, “In 7ven Days around 7pm we’ll be back. Have a Safe & Happy New Year“.

Regardless of where you began counting from, that time has come and gone with no updates or announcements which only agitated the situation and led to more frustration. Not to mention the fast dwindling interest in the project now that silence is the norm and appearances have ceased altogether.

One positive thought is that the band may be restructuring their show to include many of the new hits in order to sway Jesse back into the fray. But until someone says something, it’s all hearsay and guesses. We hope that they work it out, but the silence is deafening. And that’s a big shame considering that many fans are jumping ship. Again.

Jesse Johnson Calls It Quits With The Original 7ven

Posted by funkatop On December - 16 - 2011 6 COMMENTS
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It was the dream reunion for Prince fans as all of the members of the Morris Day and The Time clan got back together and planned a tour of the United States as The Original 7ven. We covered it very intensely here at Funkatopia and were very excited to get a chance to see the band play together as a team once more.  Then yesterday Jesse Johnson, guitarist for The Time posted a disturbing message on his Facebook account.

Jesse Johnson Quits The Time

The post simply stated that he wasn’t going to be playing the The Original 7ven anymore because they don’t see eye to eye anymore.  No word on exactly what caused the post, but we’ll be reaching out to other connections to help you find out. Needless to say, many Time fans are very upset (including us). Suspiciously enough, The Original 7ven site, Facebook page and Twitter have remained eerily quiet not discussing it at all.

More Facebook posts then followed including;

Hello Babies,
I don’t really think I’ll be performing with the Original 7 (or The Time if your nasty) any more! We simple don’t see eye to eye on anything. Love the guys, but I feel in my heart it’s “Time” to walk away while we’re all still friends. May Peace be you. 
PeaceLove, Jesse Johnson Bey ♥

and then,

Some of us are born alone, live alone, and when the time comes die alone! I’ve always and always will be a fucking loner. Not ALONE, but a loner, a lover of solitude. I really isn’t that serious and we have Way More Important Pressing matters in the World to be concerned about.
LovePeace, Jesse Johnson

and then

It is really me Jesse Johnson formerly of a few fucking bands. But I understand, there are so many pretenders, but it’s really me. I feel really bad for thevpeople who were looking forward to seeing me with The Time or whoever, but you will see and hear me especially hear me forever! Music never dies, people do. Please excuse my spelling here and there I’m typing with one finger on my iPad.
LoovePeace, Jesse Johnson Bey ♥ (Birth name, I rarely use it in the entertainment world)

and then lastly this morning with

No old just new! Always reach for the stars! Always reach! Always venture into the unknown, creatively that is! Never become complacent or live on your past achievements. And never, I do mean never, worry about what people think of your music, clothing, etc…ESPECIALLY if you dig/love what your doing.
LovePeace, Jesse Johnson Bey ♥

Long story short, it does indeed look like it’s over. Dagnabbit!

The Original 7ven aka Morris Day and The Time

2011 Soul Train Awards Winners

Posted by funkatop On November - 28 - 2011 1 COMMENT
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While we felt as if the 2011 Soul Train Awards show really lacked any type of vibe or continuity this year, it was still filled with some great performances. We were given the treat of The Original 7ven performing along with energy pumped performances from Mindless Behavior, Miguel, a tribute to Heavy D, and many more.

If you missed any of the performances, you’ll have to dig around the web or visit Youtube or watch the encore on Tuesday November 29th, because in yet another promotional failure, the Soul Train website didn’t post any performances and only included interview clips. Luckily, we have most of the videos here and are tracking down the rest. Apologies ahead of time that Gillette was apparently the only sponsor of these videos. Here are your videos and below that are the winners.;

(BET‘s servers are kind of slow, so wait a moment for these videos to initially load)

2011 Soul Train Awards Winners

Best New Artist – Miguel
Centric Award – Raphael Saddiq
Best Male R&B/Soul Artist – Cee-Lo Green
Best Female R&B/Soul Artist – Jill Scott
Best Gospel Performance – Mary Mary, “Walking”
Album of the Year – Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.
Best Soul Site – NecoleBitchie.com
The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award/Record of the Year -  “Far Away” – Marsha Ambrosius
2011 Soul Train Legends – Gladys Knight and the Pips, Earth Wind and Fire
Best Caribbean Performance – Rihanna, “Man Down”
Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year – Nicki Minaj, Kanye West ft. Rihanna, “Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, “Moment For Life”
Contemporary Jazz –Dave Koz, “Dave Koz, Hello Tomorrow”
Traditional Jazz – Cassandra Wilson, “Cassandra Wilson, Silver Pony”
Best Dance Performance – Beyonce, “Run The World”
Song of the Year – Kelly Rowland featuring Lil Wayne, “Motivation”

Prince vs. The Time – Part Two

Posted by funkatop On November - 23 - 2011 1 COMMENT
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Morris Day and Prince

Morris Day and Prince - Photo obtained from ickmusic.com

The Prince versus The Time experiment went swimmingly.  When The Time’s new album Condensate hit the store shelves, the verdict was out and for the most part, everyone loved the new album. Then the discussions began about why Prince hasn’t put out something similar and online arguments ensued. The spark of which was from the fact that Prince refused to let The Time use the band name essentially forcing them to change the name to The Original 7ven.  People went nuts and the debate was on.

So to get people’s true feelings out there, we took many opinions and statements from various music websites and a large portion from discussions on prince.org from the past few years and crafted the Prince vs. The Time post.  The post was designed to see where people really stood on the debate of Prince versus The Time and we worked it.  We used statements from fans saying that Prince is acting childish,  that Prince can’t do it like he used to, that Prince isn’t funky anymore, and we wrapped it up in support of The Original 7ven’s new album Condensate to draw those comparisons yet again.

And it’s nothing new that wasn’t already set up for everyone onscreen in the form of Purple Rain and then Graffiti Bridge. We even added in bits from the The Original 7ven’s account on their DVD about being yanked from the opening act because Prince was threatened by them. The results were astounding.  Here are some statements we heard in support of Prince and then followed by the support for The Time;

  • The Time wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for Prince.
  • If The Time really felt like they were being held back, why haven’t they shaken the look that Prince set up for them?
  • They even named themselves The Original 7ven utilizing the number 7 which is Prince-ish in itself
  • The Time continues to play the old Prince songs even on their latest tour and only play one song from their new album. They simply can’t outperform Prince.
  • Prince has a library of music of 100′s and 100′s of songs expanding over 30 years. The Time hasn’t even collectively reached their first 100 yet.
  • The Time is an extension of Prince. Always has been and always will be.
In support of The Time, the statements were;
  • If the Condensate album were Prince‘s album, I would be screaming that “Prince is back
  • Prince can’t do this level of funk anymore and doesn’t know how to write a Top 40 song (that he performs)
  • All Prince fans want this type of album from Prince, but he just can’t do it.
  • The Time are simply much better performers as a band than Prince is on stage.
  • Prince has always been threatened by The Time.
As you can see, the jury definitely swayed in favor of Prince, but the reality of which is that this was never a competition in the first place. If anything, many believe that the “beef” between Prince and The Original 7ven was strategically set up to help promote controversy with the album to boost sales. Either way, controversy sells and it’s why we structured the blog post the way that we did and it worked great. It was good to see fire in the bellies of our fellow funksters.
But there still remains some unanswered items that even we missed and we’ll close with this.  Someone brought to our attention that there was a subliminal message in The Original 7ven band photo. Jesse Johnson is wearing a paisley shirt and giving “someone” the finger. Subliminal? Intentional? You decide.
The Original 7ven

Is Jesse giving Prince the finger?

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