1970s and 1980s
In high school, Day was in a band with Prince and André Cymone and the trio formed an early band managed by Day's mother called "Grand Central," later renamed "Champagne." Later, Prince embarked on a solo career but retained Cymone for his backing band. Day and Cymone began to plan a side group that would focus more on R&B, while Prince would continue to explore various musical styles. The Time was composed of 4 members from an earlier funk group called "Flyte Tyme," but the lead singer had not been chosen. Charles Alexander Cobb, of Saint Paul, was considered but he turned it down. Sue Ann Carwell was auditioned; and Alexander O'Neal nearly became The Time's lead singer, but dropped out due to payment negotiations. Day, who was now in a band called "Enterprise", allowed Prince to have a song called "Partyup" for his Dirty Mind album, and Prince would soon return the favor by giving Day the job of lead singer. Day would suggest guitarist Jesse Johnson, who completed the band's ensemble.
The Time's most prolific and visible period came in 1984, when Day played the antagonist to Prince in his feature film Purple Rain, and later in Graffiti Bridge (1990), which helped establish Day's playboy stage presence. Typically escorted by his valet, "Jerome" (Jerome Benton), Day won fans with his exaggerated vanity ("Jerome bring me my mirror!") and strutting bravado ("Ain't nobody bad like me!"), acting as a comic foil to Prince's romantic, sensitive lead. This persona was further exploited for comic effect on The Time's records, on songs such as "Chili Sauce" and "If the Kid Can't Make You Come" from the album Ice Cream Castle.
That album, the group's most popular, is best remembered for the infectious singles "Jungle Love" and the Rufus Thomas influenced, "The Bird." With their palpable pop energy and catchy choruses, both songs were hits on both urban and pop radio.
With the breakup of The Time in 1984, Day began his solo career. In 1985, Day released his solo debut Color of Success. The album featured the singles "The Oak Tree" as well as the title track and the quiet storm ballad "Don't Wait For Me".
In 1986 Morris Day married Judith Day. They were married for 22 years, until 2008. They had three children together.
In 1988 he starred as Curtis on the short-lived and poorly received series, Heart & Soul, along with Tisha Campbell.
It wasn't until 1990 that The Time scored a #1 R&B hit with "Jerk Out," a Dance-funk cut from their reunited fourth album, Pandemonium. This album also featured the original members of the band. The same year, Day formed his own girl band (not unlike Prince's Vanity 6/Apollonia 6) called The Day Zs. The group's first and only album release was produced by Day and he sang on one of the tracks called "Green Acres."
From that high point, Day's success began to wane. The general decline of Prince's popularity soon after did not help, and Day's public visibility and creative output waned considerably.
2000 to present
Day came out of his self-imposed retirement because of his fans' support. Day has remained a popular concert draw since the late 1990s, fronting a revamped lineup of The Time, including originals Jellybean Johnson on drums and Monte Moir on keyboards. The band was invited to perform on Prince's direct to video concert film, "Rave Un2 The Year 2000", in December 1999.
He reunited with the original members of The Time after 18 years for a performance with Rihanna at the 50th Grammy Awards show.
Morris Day and The Time performed at the 2008 HR Florida State Conference.
Morris Day is now performing with his new band called The Original 7ven. The band includes most of the members of the original band The Time, hence the name.
The new album was released in 2011 and is called Condensate.
After his roles in Purple Rain (1984) and Graffiti Bridge (1990), Day continued to act in films from time to time in small parts (including a brief but memorable turn in Richard Pryor's Moving, and the Andrew Dice Clay 1990 film The Adventures of Ford Fairlane). Day's presence on the screen decreased until, in 2001, he returned to film in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, performing "Jungle Love" with The Time and dancing with the movie's stars in the film's coda, and being introduced emphatically by Jason Mewes' character as "Morris Day and The motherfuckin' Time!".
Day also appeared on the small screen in 1990 when he portrayed the character Lamarr on ABC's short-lived sitcom New Attitude. He guest-starred on the sitcom Eve as a pimp who wanted Eve's fashion boutique to design a flamboyant suit to match his witty personality, and appeared as himself in an episode on the series Moesha, attempting to file a lawsuit against Moesha's ex-boyfriend Q, who used a sample from "The Oak Tree" without permission. He also appeared on 227 in the 80's.
He appeared opposite James Avery and Matthew Stewart in a pilot called Heart & Soul.
Appearances in popular culture
He appeared with The Time at the end of the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and was referred to as the main characters' favorite band.
In 1994, Day was featured on and provided the chorus and accompanying vocals for rapper K-Dee's song "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" from the Ass, Gas, or Cash album. This song was essentially a direct sampling of a similarly named "Gigolos Get Lonely Too", recorded by The Time in the 80's.
Mentioned in Dirt Nasty's song 1980.
Mentioned in Kid Rock's 2000 hit "Wasting Time", "On the line I got more time than Morris Day".
Australian musician Dave Graney repeats a Morris Day quote — "As a concept — incredible! But I’m a reality!" — over and over throughout the title song from his 2009 album, 'Knock Yourself Out'.
With The Time
- The Time (Warner Bros., 1981)
- What Time Is It? (Warner Bros., 1982)
- Ice Cream Castle (Warner Bros., 1984)
- Pandemonium (Paisley Park Records, 1990) #18 US
- Condensate (as The Original 7ven) (Saguaro Road Records, 2011)
- Color of Success (1985) #37 Pop, #7 R&B
- Daydreaming (1987) #41 Pop, #7 R&B
- Guaranteed (1992)
- It's About Time (2004) #197 Pop, #39 R&B
With The Time
- "The Bird"
- "The Oak Tree" #65 Pop, #3 R&B
- "Color of Success" #15 R&B
- "The Character" #34 R&B
- "Love Sign"
- "Fishnet" #23 Pop, #1 R&B
- "Daydreaming" #26 R&B
- "Love Is a Game" #71 R&B
- "Are You Ready?"
- "Gimme Whatcha Got"
- "Circle of Love"