independent and unofficial
Prince fan community site
Wed 21st Nov 2018 12:58pm
Welcome! Sign up or enter username and password to remember me
Forum jump
Forums > Associated artists & people > Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence
« Previous topic  Next topic »
  New topic   Printable     (Log in to 'subscribe' to this topic)
Author

Tweet     Share

Message
Thread started 09/14/18 9:34am

OldFriends4Sal
e

avatar

moderator

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence

In part two of our interview, James Harris III breaks down his beginnings as a musician and shares his thoughts on his prolific recording career thus far.

by Chris Williams

Opener_JimmyJam-620x410.png

Over the past three decades, James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence. They’ve created trailblazing sounds for numerous genre-bending artists and amassed a following only a few musicians can claim. Their production methods are legendary among their contemporaries and music aficionados alike. Through their ethereal talent and technical precision, they’ve influenced a new generation of musicians across different genres. During their partnership, Harris and Lewis have earned more than one hundred gold, platinum, multi-platinum, and diamond albums, and produced more than a hundred Billboard Top 10 songs, including twenty-six number one R&B and sixteen number one Hot 100 hit records.Their story of becoming the greatest producing tandem ever is truly awe-inspiring.

When you were growing up in Minneapolis, what was it like being the child of a famous local musician and how did it influence you to become a musician?

Jimmy Jam: Well, two things on that point. The fact that my dad was famous locally really didn’t have a lot to do with it once I got into my music career. I was around sixteen years old when I got serious in trying to produce records. So it didn’t really have anything to do with his fame. But growing up. there were always instruments lying around. My dad always had keyboards lying around the house, and it was very easy for me to be influenced by having access to those instruments. But my mom was also a big music lover. She was always playing records on the stereo. I never remember a day where music wasn’t being played. I remember my parents bought me a drum set when I was five years old. I used to bang around on that thing, and I know I drove them crazy. But what it led to was when I was twelve, my dad had a trio, and he would always have these different drummers come in every week. He could never keep a drummer in the band.

At one of the gigs, his drummer didn’t show up. So I ended up asking him, “Could I play a song?” He said, “Yeah, sure.” We played one song together. Then, the next week, he was still having problems with the drummer so I ended up playing a whole set. By the following week, my father’s band mate named Coffee told him, “Why don’t you let Jimmy go ahead and play the drums? He already knows all your songs.” So at the age of twelve, I was gigging every week at clubs playing with my dad. It obviously had a big influence on me getting a chance to play professionally. He tried to get out of paying me, but my mom was my agent. She told him he had to pay me just like any other drummer he would have in his band. I started a nice little savings account, so that was cool. His influence was huge to me in many, many ways. But the fact that he was famous really didn’t play a part, but him giving me the chance to play, and inheriting his musical genes was an important part of me getting to where I am today.

Who were some of the people you grew up with in your neighborhood that helped you along your musical journey?

I think the number one person would be Terry Lewis. I met Terry when I was thirteen, and we’ve been together ever since. He was a huge influence on me. When we met, he was a couple years older than me. He was a like a big brother figure and definitely turned me on to a lot of music. Growing up in Minneapolis, I grew up listening to a lot of pop music like America, the Carpenters, and all that kind of stuff. Terry was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and had relatives in Chicago and other places. He was up on all the really good music. He was the first one to turn me on to Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, and all those kind of bands. He was a major influence when I first met him. Then, it was the circle of musicians that were around me during that time in Minneapolis. All of us were in competing bands together. Prince had his own band. Morris Day was in that band with Prince back then. Alexander O’Neal was in our band back then too. Cynthia Johnson, who went on to sing “Funkytown” for Lipps Inc., was one of the singers in our band for quite a while. People like Sonny Thompson, who is probably the best musician to ever come from Minnesota, and André Cymone, who is actually a distant cousin of mine.

So there were a lot of great musicians up there, and everyone was competing to get ahead. I had my own group called Mind and Matter. It was a singing group modeled along the lines of Blue Magic. The Philadelphia sound was my favorite once I got into my teens. So whatever I would try to write would sound like Gamble & Huff or Thom Bell. They were my big influences. My group Mind and Matter consisted of guys who were older than me. I was like sixteen, and one of the guys in the group was a counselor at my high school. I was able to get out of class, and we would go write songs all day. These guys were a big influence on me, because they were in their twenties, and they were great singers. I just had a great musical environment growing up.

Jimmy-Jam-at-the-Taste-Show-Lounge.jpeg

Jimmy Jam at the Taste Show Lounge, circa 1980. Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

When and where did you meet Terry Lewis, and when did you decide to join forces in creating a band, and later a production duo?

We met at the University of Minnesota. We weren’t in college at the time. We were in a summer school program called Upward Bound. The course we were in was called Peer Teaching. What it was is you would learn math and, then, teach it to a kid who was a grade underneath you. So I was going into eigth grade and I was teaching seventh graders how to do math. I was good in school generally, but I wasn’t good at math. Interestingly enough, we met through education, which was cool. At this program, we stayed in dorms. I remember walking by Terry’s room, and he had this red, black, and green bass. He had this Kool and the Gang record just blasting. He was playing the bass part with Kool. I said to myself, “Who is this dude?” I was instantly attracted to him. I thought he was just cool. He was the older brother I didn’t have. He was a couple years older, and had the girls.

Later on, I found out he was a great athlete, but I didn’t know anything about him. We just hit it off. I used to play the piano in one of the lunchrooms, and Terry would hear me play. One day, he came up to me and said, “Hey man, I’m putting this group together to play at the end of the summer party. I want you to play keyboards.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t play keyboards. I play the drums.” He said, “No. But you play keyboards. I’ve heard you play before.” I said, “No, I just dabble with the keyboards. I don’t really play.” He said, “I already have a drummer.” I said, “But I play drums.” As it turned out, his drummer was Jellybean Johnson. So when I heard Jellybean Johnson play the drums, I said to Terry, “Yeah, let’s go get them keyboards.” We went and got my dad’s keyboards. And we ended up playing at this end of the summer function for the Upward Bound program. We didn’t have a singer, so we played everything as an instrumental.

After that, we kept in touch with each other. For a while, were trying to be in the same band, but Terry was trying to do a funk type of thing, and I was thinking more along the lines of doing a Philadelphia sound. We tried to write some songs together at that time, but it didn’t work. He would come up with this funky beat and I would put a pretty melody over top of it. Or I would come up with a pretty melody and he would put some funk thing down on it. It just wasn’t working. So we decided to keep being friends, but be in rival bands. I had my band Mind and Matter and he had Flyte Tyme, which was totally Parliament-Funkadelic-based. We used to do battle of the band shows where I would beat his band, and the next week he would beat mine.

For Terry and me, it was always about mutual respect and camaraderie. At some point in Terry’s mind, he knew we were going to get together at a certain point and time. Let’s fast forward from the Upward Bound thing to six years later when I’m spinning records at this club called the Fox Trap. I’m upstairs spinning records, and he’s downstairs playing live music with his band Flyte Tyme. He came upstairs to the DJ booth and he said, “Hey Jam, you ain’t no DJ. You need to come downstairs and check our show out.” I said, “Okay, what’s going on?” He said, “I have this new keyboard player, and he sings really good.” I said, “Okay, cool. I’ll be down there in a little bit.”

So I put on “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was a seventeen-minute record. I knew this song would give me enough time to go downstairs to see what was going on. I walked in and they’re playing “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. I can hear the singer, but I can’t see him because he’s buried behind a bunch of keyboards. I was like, “Yeah, he does sound good.” I poke my head around the corner to see who it is, and it’s this little White dude. I’m saying to myself, “Who is the dude who is singing? It can’t be this White dude singing like that.” But it was. I was like, “This little White dude is bad!” So, I went back up to the DJ booth, and after the show, Terry came back up to me. He asked me, “What did you think of the keyboard player?” I told him, “Oh man, I loved it! It was great. I’m glad you found yourself a keyboard player because now you can quit chasing me and leave me alone.” [laughs]

By the way, the keyboard player was Monte Moir, and he ended up being in the Time. Terry told me, “We need two keyboard players. That’s the new thing. We’re going to have two keyboard players. You still have to join us.” I told him, “No, T. I’m just going to do my DJ thing. I’m done with making music right now.” But then, of course, there is a girl in every story, right? So, I was seeing this older girl. She was thirty, and I was eighteen or nineteen at the time. And it didn’t work out. I was literally walking home from her place and I heard this music playing from a recreational center, and I poked my head in the door and it was FlyteTyme. I walked in, and I said, “Hey, Terry, what’s going on, man?” He said, “Nothing, man.” I said, “What are you guys doing?” He said, “They’re letting us use this as a rehearsal hall. They let us rehearse here, and we play on the weekends.” I said, “You guys sound really good.” Terry asked me, “What are you up to?” I told him, “Nothing. I just broke up with this girl.” Terry said, “Well, this is the perfect time to join the band!” I said, “No, T. I’m not with it.” So the next day, Terry called me. He said, “Alright, Jam. What do we need to do to get you to join the band.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t even have my keyboards anymore. I sold all my keyboards. I got all DJ equipment.” He said, “We can get you keyboards. What kind of keyboards do you need?” Terry bought the keyboards and told me to just show up to their next rehearsal.

We started playing, and we just instantly clicked. We picked up right where we left off a few years prior. And we’ve been together ever since. Flyte Time literally turned into the Time within three to four weeks of me joining the group again. This is when the whole thing happened. Prince told us he would give us a record deal and wanted us to make a record. I guess it was all meant to be. I thank Terry to this day for his stubbornness.

Jimmy-Jam-Minnesota-Historical-Society.jpeg

Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

You said within a three- to four-week time period, Flyte Tyme turned into the Time. How did Terry come up with the name Flyte Tyme, and how did the group transform into the Time?

The name for the group came from a Donald Byrd album. We used to play their music all the time. The transition from Flyte Tyme to the Time happened like this: I joined the group, Alexander O’Neal was the lead singer, Jellybean Johnson was on drums, Monte Moir and me were on keyboards, and Terry Lewis was on bass. We didn’t have a guitar player at that time. That was basically the band. Prince was looking for a bass player because André Cymone quit his band. This was right after his Dirty Mind album. So Prince put out an ad for a bass player. Jesse Johnson answered the ad. He went and auditioned for Prince. Prince told him he was really good, but he needed a bass player, and not a guitar player. Jesse asked him what he should do. Prince basically told him he should stay around, and join one of the local bands. Jesse stuck around town and he joined Morris Day’s band called the Enterprise Band of Pleasure. A couple people came up to us after our gig one night and told us about this guitar player that Morris’s band had. They were telling us he was like Jimi Hendrix, because he would have twenty-minute guitar solos.

We decided to go check him out, and he was amazing. After the show, we went up to him and we asked, “Hey man, what is your name?” He said, “Jesse.” We said, “Our group is called Flyte Tyme, and we’re better than the band you’re with. No offense to anyone who is in the band with you. You should come join our band.” He asked us, “Where are you guys playing at?” We told him, “A place called the Nacirema.” He said, “I’m going to come and check you guys out.” We said, “Cool.” Jesse comes over, and checks our band out, and loves us. He said, “I’m going to join your band.” We said, “Okay, cool.” So he went to Morris and told him, “Hey man, I just talked to Terry Lewis, and I’m going to join Flyte Tyme.” And Morris said, “That’s cool. Go ahead and join them because pretty soon we’re all going to be in one band.” Jesse asked, “What do you mean?” Morris said, “Don’t worry about it. Go ahead and join them.” Jesse joined our band.

A week later, Prince calls a meeting, and he wanted all of us to come. The deal was Morris called Terry and told Terry that Prince wanted to meet with us and put our groups together as one. Terry was cool with it. Terry asked him, “How did this happen?” Morris told him, “There was this song called “Party Up” on the Dirty Mind album, and I came up with the track for it, and Prince took credit for it, and to return the favor, he said if I put a band together, he would get us a record deal. Y’all are the best band, so I’m just going to join your band and that’ll be our band. Let’s make a record.” We were all friends anyways because we all grew up together. Terry went to school with Morris, and we knew each other really well.

The weird problem we had is we had our band altogether. Jellybean Johnson was our drummer, but Morris was a drummer as well. So it was like wait a minute, if Morris is going to be our drummer and Alexander O’Neal is going to be our lead singer, then unless we’re going to have two drummers, that means Jellybean is out of the group, and that’s really messed up. So anyways, we go to this restaurant called Perkins, and we have this meeting with Prince. Prince sat down and started explaining what we were going to do. Alexander O’Neal was sitting there and he said, “First of all, Prince before we get started with the meeting, I have a few things I want to say. Alexander O’Neal needs paper.” Prince replied, “What do you mean, paper?” Alex said, “I need paper. This whole music thing is all fun and everything, but Alexander O’Neal needs to get paid. I need a new pool, a new car, and a new house.” He’s saying this and we’re sitting there saying to ourselves, “Are you nuts? What are you doing?” After that, they give him a steak and he said, “I’m going to go ahead and throw down on this steak? Y’all go ahead and talk.” So Prince and Morris get up and walk out. We said to him, “What did you just do? We’re trying to get a deal here.”Alex responded, “You have to give me some paper.”

We’re thinking the whole thing was off. A day later, I can’t remember if Morris called Terry or Prince called Terry, but I remember the conversation was real short. It was basically said that Alexander O’Neal was out, Jellybean is the drummer, Morris is going to be the singer, and we’re going to rehearse tomorrow at five o’clock. That was the conversation. Terry called everyone and told them that Alex was out of the group. This is how the Time was born. Alexander O’ Neal literally talked himself out of the group. It solved the lead singer and the drummer problem.

I didn’t hear you mention Jerome Benton. Where does he enter into the picture?

Jerome Benton was basically our roadie. He would set up our equipment and basically do all that type of stuff. The way Jerome got in the band was we were rehearsing at this same community center. It was called the YAASM, which stood for the Young African American Society of Minnesota. The guy who ran it was an older gentleman named Weaver. He was really nice to let us do it. He wanted to have an environment to keep the kids off the streets. It was a nice building he had there. At one of the rehearsals, we were working on one of our songs, and Jerome was sitting there listening. Prince was sitting there watching the rehearsal. When Morris told someone to bring him a mirror, Jerome grabs this huge mirror, and holds it in front of Morris. And Morris starts primpin’ in the mirror, and Prince falls out of his chair laughing. And Prince said, “That has to be in the show!” From that moment on, Jerome was part of the band.

When and where did you first meet Prince since he factors heavily into the equation regarding the beginning of your career?

For me, I went to school with Prince. We lived on the Southside of Minneapolis. Jellybean, Terry, Monte, Morris, and all those guys lived on the Northside of Minneapolis. They all went to North High School. Prince and I went to Central High School, but because of busing I was bussed to Washburn High School. But, during junior high, we both went to the same junior high school called Bryant Junior High. What we did was we took a music class together. Both of us already knew how to play, but we took this class because we were able to get out of class for an hour. The teacher would give us this song to learn how to play. One of the songs was “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” The teacher would tell us to learn it, and then come back an hour later. Of course, we knew how to play it. During the hour he was gone, we would put our headphones on at the keyboards, and we would just jam away.

By the way, Prince used to be a really good basketball player. People still laugh about this, but Prince could really play. He was a great ball handler. He had an older brother named Duane. Duane looked just like Prince, but he was six-three. They played together on the same teams, and they were really good basketball players. A lot of people knew Prince from basketball before they knew him as a musician. The thing that was cool about it was I remember that class was going to put a band together to play at this school play. I told them I would play drums and Prince said, “I’ll play guitar.” I looked at him because I didn’t know he could play guitar. I thought he only played keyboards. He said, “Yeah, I play the guitar too.”

So we get into our first rehearsal and Prince plugged his guitar in and he was unbelievable. He played “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, and the song had a guitar solo. And, if you played the guitar, it was like the go-to guitar solo. It was a great way of showing someone that you could really play the guitar. Prince ripped the solo note-for-note, and I was like, “Oh, my God!” I had no idea he was that good. I said to myself, “This is the baddest dude I’ve ever seen.” We took a break from the rehearsal. I went to the bathroom, and I heard someone playing the drums and they’re tearing them up. I was thinking it was the music teacher Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton was really good. So I walked out, and it was Prince sitting at the drums. We were twelve or thirteen at this time. If I remember correctly, Prince got his record deal when he was fifteen. We did the whole gig, and I remember a few years afterward someone told me that Prince played all the instruments on his demo. I told them I bet he did because I saw him do it before.


Terry got to know him through playing in different bands, battle of the band shows, and outdoor summer festivals. Everyone who was a musician knew each other. There were only a few places to rehearse in Minneapolis. One of them was called the Way, which was a community center in North Minneapolis. We got to know everybody. Prince’s band was really good. They were called Grand Central. Morris was his drummer, and he was an incredible drummer. Prince’s and Morris’s drum styles are almost identical in the way they play. André was his bass player and his sister Linda Anderson was his keyboard player. It was a tight little band that was really good. At one point in time, I auditioned for Prince’s band when he was about to go on tour. Honestly, I wasn’t good enough. He chose Doctor Fink and Lisa, and they could play circles around me. I was just happy for the opportunity.

http://www.waxpoetics.com...interview/

the full interview

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #1 posted 09/20/18 8:13am

purplethunder3
121

avatar

cool

"If you're living, you've got nothing left to prove..."
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #2 posted 09/20/18 8:47am

PennyPurple

avatar

OldFriends4Sale said:

In part two of our interview, James Harris III breaks down his beginnings as a musician and shares his thoughts on his prolific recording career thus far.

by Chris Williams

Over the past three decades, James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence. They’ve created trailblazing sounds for numerous genre-bending artists and amassed a following only a few musicians can claim. Their production methods are legendary among their contemporaries and music aficionados alike. Through their ethereal talent and technical precision, they’ve influenced a new generation of musicians across different genres. During their partnership, Harris and Lewis have earned more than one hundred gold, platinum, multi-platinum, and diamond albums, and produced more than a hundred Billboard Top 10 songs, including twenty-six number one R&B and sixteen number one Hot 100 hit records.Their story of becoming the greatest producing tandem ever is truly awe-inspiring.

When you were growing up in Minneapolis, what was it like being the child of a famous local musician and how did it influence you to become a musician?

Jimmy Jam: Well, two things on that point. The fact that my dad was famous locally really didn’t have a lot to do with it once I got into my music career. I was around sixteen years old when I got serious in trying to produce records. So it didn’t really have anything to do with his fame. But growing up. there were always instruments lying around. My dad always had keyboards lying around the house, and it was very easy for me to be influenced by having access to those instruments. But my mom was also a big music lover. She was always playing records on the stereo. I never remember a day where music wasn’t being played. I remember my parents bought me a drum set when I was five years old. I used to bang around on that thing, and I know I drove them crazy. But what it led to was when I was twelve, my dad had a trio, and he would always have these different drummers come in every week. He could never keep a drummer in the band.

At one of the gigs, his drummer didn’t show up. So I ended up asking him, “Could I play a song?” He said, “Yeah, sure.” We played one song together. Then, the next week, he was still having problems with the drummer so I ended up playing a whole set. By the following week, my father’s band mate named Coffee told him, “Why don’t you let Jimmy go ahead and play the drums? He already knows all your songs.” So at the age of twelve, I was gigging every week at clubs playing with my dad. It obviously had a big influence on me getting a chance to play professionally. He tried to get out of paying me, but my mom was my agent. She told him he had to pay me just like any other drummer he would have in his band. I started a nice little savings account, so that was cool. His influence was huge to me in many, many ways. But the fact that he was famous really didn’t play a part, but him giving me the chance to play, and inheriting his musical genes was an important part of me getting to where I am today.

Who were some of the people you grew up with in your neighborhood that helped you along your musical journey?

I think the number one person would be Terry Lewis. I met Terry when I was thirteen, and we’ve been together ever since. He was a huge influence on me. When we met, he was a couple years older than me. He was a like a big brother figure and definitely turned me on to a lot of music. Growing up in Minneapolis, I grew up listening to a lot of pop music like America, the Carpenters, and all that kind of stuff. Terry was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and had relatives in Chicago and other places. He was up on all the really good music. He was the first one to turn me on to Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, and all those kind of bands. He was a major influence when I first met him. Then, it was the circle of musicians that were around me during that time in Minneapolis. All of us were in competing bands together. Prince had his own band. Morris Day was in that band with Prince back then. Alexander O’Neal was in our band back then too. Cynthia Johnson, who went on to sing “Funkytown” for Lipps Inc., was one of the singers in our band for quite a while. People like Sonny Thompson, who is probably the best musician to ever come from Minnesota, and André Cymone, who is actually a distant cousin of mine.

So there were a lot of great musicians up there, and everyone was competing to get ahead. I had my own group called Mind and Matter. It was a singing group modeled along the lines of Blue Magic. The Philadelphia sound was my favorite once I got into my teens. So whatever I would try to write would sound like Gamble & Huff or Thom Bell. They were my big influences. My group Mind and Matter consisted of guys who were older than me. I was like sixteen, and one of the guys in the group was a counselor at my high school. I was able to get out of class, and we would go write songs all day. These guys were a big influence on me, because they were in their twenties, and they were great singers. I just had a great musical environment growing up.

Jimmy-Jam-at-the-Taste-Show-Lounge.jpeg

Jimmy Jam at the Taste Show Lounge, circa 1980. Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

When and where did you meet Terry Lewis, and when did you decide to join forces in creating a band, and later a production duo?

We met at the University of Minnesota. We weren’t in college at the time. We were in a summer school program called Upward Bound. The course we were in was called Peer Teaching. What it was is you would learn math and, then, teach it to a kid who was a grade underneath you. So I was going into eigth grade and I was teaching seventh graders how to do math. I was good in school generally, but I wasn’t good at math. Interestingly enough, we met through education, which was cool. At this program, we stayed in dorms. I remember walking by Terry’s room, and he had this red, black, and green bass. He had this Kool and the Gang record just blasting. He was playing the bass part with Kool. I said to myself, “Who is this dude?” I was instantly attracted to him. I thought he was just cool. He was the older brother I didn’t have. He was a couple years older, and had the girls.

Later on, I found out he was a great athlete, but I didn’t know anything about him. We just hit it off. I used to play the piano in one of the lunchrooms, and Terry would hear me play. One day, he came up to me and said, “Hey man, I’m putting this group together to play at the end of the summer party. I want you to play keyboards.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t play keyboards. I play the drums.” He said, “No. But you play keyboards. I’ve heard you play before.” I said, “No, I just dabble with the keyboards. I don’t really play.” He said, “I already have a drummer.” I said, “But I play drums.” As it turned out, his drummer was Jellybean Johnson. So when I heard Jellybean Johnson play the drums, I said to Terry, “Yeah, let’s go get them keyboards.” We went and got my dad’s keyboards. And we ended up playing at this end of the summer function for the Upward Bound program. We didn’t have a singer, so we played everything as an instrumental.

After that, we kept in touch with each other. For a while, were trying to be in the same band, but Terry was trying to do a funk type of thing, and I was thinking more along the lines of doing a Philadelphia sound. We tried to write some songs together at that time, but it didn’t work. He would come up with this funky beat and I would put a pretty melody over top of it. Or I would come up with a pretty melody and he would put some funk thing down on it. It just wasn’t working. So we decided to keep being friends, but be in rival bands. I had my band Mind and Matter and he had Flyte Tyme, which was totally Parliament-Funkadelic-based. We used to do battle of the band shows where I would beat his band, and the next week he would beat mine.

For Terry and me, it was always about mutual respect and camaraderie. At some point in Terry’s mind, he knew we were going to get together at a certain point and time. Let’s fast forward from the Upward Bound thing to six years later when I’m spinning records at this club called the Fox Trap. I’m upstairs spinning records, and he’s downstairs playing live music with his band Flyte Tyme. He came upstairs to the DJ booth and he said, “Hey Jam, you ain’t no DJ. You need to come downstairs and check our show out.” I said, “Okay, what’s going on?” He said, “I have this new keyboard player, and he sings really good.” I said, “Okay, cool. I’ll be down there in a little bit.”

So I put on “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was a seventeen-minute record. I knew this song would give me enough time to go downstairs to see what was going on. I walked in and they’re playing “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. I can hear the singer, but I can’t see him because he’s buried behind a bunch of keyboards. I was like, “Yeah, he does sound good.” I poke my head around the corner to see who it is, and it’s this little White dude. I’m saying to myself, “Who is the dude who is singing? It can’t be this White dude singing like that.” But it was. I was like, “This little White dude is bad!” So, I went back up to the DJ booth, and after the show, Terry came back up to me. He asked me, “What did you think of the keyboard player?” I told him, “Oh man, I loved it! It was great. I’m glad you found yourself a keyboard player because now you can quit chasing me and leave me alone.” [laughs]

By the way, the keyboard player was Monte Moir, and he ended up being in the Time. Terry told me, “We need two keyboard players. That’s the new thing. We’re going to have two keyboard players. You still have to join us.” I told him, “No, T. I’m just going to do my DJ thing. I’m done with making music right now.” But then, of course, there is a girl in every story, right? So, I was seeing this older girl. She was thirty, and I was eighteen or nineteen at the time. And it didn’t work out. I was literally walking home from her place and I heard this music playing from a recreational center, and I poked my head in the door and it was FlyteTyme. I walked in, and I said, “Hey, Terry, what’s going on, man?” He said, “Nothing, man.” I said, “What are you guys doing?” He said, “They’re letting us use this as a rehearsal hall. They let us rehearse here, and we play on the weekends.” I said, “You guys sound really good.” Terry asked me, “What are you up to?” I told him, “Nothing. I just broke up with this girl.” Terry said, “Well, this is the perfect time to join the band!” I said, “No, T. I’m not with it.” So the next day, Terry called me. He said, “Alright, Jam. What do we need to do to get you to join the band.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t even have my keyboards anymore. I sold all my keyboards. I got all DJ equipment.” He said, “We can get you keyboards. What kind of keyboards do you need?” Terry bought the keyboards and told me to just show up to their next rehearsal.

We started playing, and we just instantly clicked. We picked up right where we left off a few years prior. And we’ve been together ever since. Flyte Time literally turned into the Time within three to four weeks of me joining the group again. This is when the whole thing happened. Prince told us he would give us a record deal and wanted us to make a record. I guess it was all meant to be. I thank Terry to this day for his stubbornness.

Jimmy-Jam-Minnesota-Historical-Society.jpeg

Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

You said within a three- to four-week time period, Flyte Tyme turned into the Time. How did Terry come up with the name Flyte Tyme, and how did the group transform into the Time?

The name for the group came from a Donald Byrd album. We used to play their music all the time. The transition from Flyte Tyme to the Time happened like this: I joined the group, Alexander O’Neal was the lead singer, Jellybean Johnson was on drums, Monte Moir and me were on keyboards, and Terry Lewis was on bass. We didn’t have a guitar player at that time. That was basically the band. Prince was looking for a bass player because André Cymone quit his band. This was right after his Dirty Mind album. So Prince put out an ad for a bass player. Jesse Johnson answered the ad. He went and auditioned for Prince. Prince told him he was really good, but he needed a bass player, and not a guitar player. Jesse asked him what he should do. Prince basically told him he should stay around, and join one of the local bands. Jesse stuck around town and he joined Morris Day’s band called the Enterprise Band of Pleasure. A couple people came up to us after our gig one night and told us about this guitar player that Morris’s band had. They were telling us he was like Jimi Hendrix, because he would have twenty-minute guitar solos.

We decided to go check him out, and he was amazing. After the show, we went up to him and we asked, “Hey man, what is your name?” He said, “Jesse.” We said, “Our group is called Flyte Tyme, and we’re better than the band you’re with. No offense to anyone who is in the band with you. You should come join our band.” He asked us, “Where are you guys playing at?” We told him, “A place called the Nacirema.” He said, “I’m going to come and check you guys out.” We said, “Cool.” Jesse comes over, and checks our band out, and loves us. He said, “I’m going to join your band.” We said, “Okay, cool.” So he went to Morris and told him, “Hey man, I just talked to Terry Lewis, and I’m going to join Flyte Tyme.” And Morris said, “That’s cool. Go ahead and join them because pretty soon we’re all going to be in one band.” Jesse asked, “What do you mean?” Morris said, “Don’t worry about it. Go ahead and join them.” Jesse joined our band.

A week later, Prince calls a meeting, and he wanted all of us to come. The deal was Morris called Terry and told Terry that Prince wanted to meet with us and put our groups together as one. Terry was cool with it. Terry asked him, “How did this happen?” Morris told him, “There was this song called “Party Up” on the Dirty Mind album, and I came up with the track for it, and Prince took credit for it, and to return the favor, he said if I put a band together, he would get us a record deal. Y’all are the best band, so I’m just going to join your band and that’ll be our band. Let’s make a record.” We were all friends anyways because we all grew up together. Terry went to school with Morris, and we knew each other really well.

The weird problem we had is we had our band altogether. Jellybean Johnson was our drummer, but Morris was a drummer as well. So it was like wait a minute, if Morris is going to be our drummer and Alexander O’Neal is going to be our lead singer, then unless we’re going to have two drummers, that means Jellybean is out of the group, and that’s really messed up. So anyways, we go to this restaurant called Perkins, and we have this meeting with Prince. Prince sat down and started explaining what we were going to do. Alexander O’Neal was sitting there and he said, “First of all, Prince before we get started with the meeting, I have a few things I want to say. Alexander O’Neal needs paper.” Prince replied, “What do you mean, paper?” Alex said, “I need paper. This whole music thing is all fun and everything, but Alexander O’Neal needs to get paid. I need a new pool, a new car, and a new house.” He’s saying this and we’re sitting there saying to ourselves, “Are you nuts? What are you doing?” After that, they give him a steak and he said, “I’m going to go ahead and throw down on this steak? Y’all go ahead and talk.” So Prince and Morris get up and walk out. We said to him, “What did you just do? We’re trying to get a deal here.”Alex responded, “You have to give me some paper.”

We’re thinking the whole thing was off. A day later, I can’t remember if Morris called Terry or Prince called Terry, but I remember the conversation was real short. It was basically said that Alexander O’Neal was out, Jellybean is the drummer, Morris is going to be the singer, and we’re going to rehearse tomorrow at five o’clock. That was the conversation. Terry called everyone and told them that Alex was out of the group. This is how the Time was born. Alexander O’ Neal literally talked himself out of the group. It solved the lead singer and the drummer problem.

I didn’t hear you mention Jerome Benton. Where does he enter into the picture?

Jerome Benton was basically our roadie. He would set up our equipment and basically do all that type of stuff. The way Jerome got in the band was we were rehearsing at this same community center. It was called the YAASM, which stood for the Young African American Society of Minnesota. The guy who ran it was an older gentleman named Weaver. He was really nice to let us do it. He wanted to have an environment to keep the kids off the streets. It was a nice building he had there. At one of the rehearsals, we were working on one of our songs, and Jerome was sitting there listening. Prince was sitting there watching the rehearsal. When Morris told someone to bring him a mirror, Jerome grabs this huge mirror, and holds it in front of Morris. And Morris starts primpin’ in the mirror, and Prince falls out of his chair laughing. And Prince said, “That has to be in the show!” From that moment on, Jerome was part of the band.

When and where did you first meet Prince since he factors heavily into the equation regarding the beginning of your career?

For me, I went to school with Prince. We lived on the Southside of Minneapolis. Jellybean, Terry, Monte, Morris, and all those guys lived on the Northside of Minneapolis. They all went to North High School. Prince and I went to Central High School, but because of busing I was bussed to Washburn High School. But, during junior high, we both went to the same junior high school called Bryant Junior High. What we did was we took a music class together. Both of us already knew how to play, but we took this class because we were able to get out of class for an hour. The teacher would give us this song to learn how to play. One of the songs was “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” The teacher would tell us to learn it, and then come back an hour later. Of course, we knew how to play it. During the hour he was gone, we would put our headphones on at the keyboards, and we would just jam away.

By the way, Prince used to be a really good basketball player. People still laugh about this, but Prince could really play. He was a great ball handler. He had an older brother named Duane. Duane looked just like Prince, but he was six-three. They played together on the same teams, and they were really good basketball players. A lot of people knew Prince from basketball before they knew him as a musician. The thing that was cool about it was I remember that class was going to put a band together to play at this school play. I told them I would play drums and Prince said, “I’ll play guitar.” I looked at him because I didn’t know he could play guitar. I thought he only played keyboards. He said, “Yeah, I play the guitar too.”

So we get into our first rehearsal and Prince plugged his guitar in and he was unbelievable. He played “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, and the song had a guitar solo. And, if you played the guitar, it was like the go-to guitar solo. It was a great way of showing someone that you could really play the guitar. Prince ripped the solo note-for-note, and I was like, “Oh, my God!” I had no idea he was that good. I said to myself, “This is the baddest dude I’ve ever seen.” We took a break from the rehearsal. I went to the bathroom, and I heard someone playing the drums and they’re tearing them up. I was thinking it was the music teacher Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton was really good. So I walked out, and it was Prince sitting at the drums. We were twelve or thirteen at this time. If I remember correctly, Prince got his record deal when he was fifteen. We did the whole gig, and I remember a few years afterward someone told me that Prince played all the instruments on his demo. I told them I bet he did because I saw him do it before.


Terry got to know him through playing in different bands, battle of the band shows, and outdoor summer festivals. Everyone who was a musician knew each other. There were only a few places to rehearse in Minneapolis. One of them was called the Way, which was a community center in North Minneapolis. We got to know everybody. Prince’s band was really good. They were called Grand Central. Morris was his drummer, and he was an incredible drummer. Prince’s and Morris’s drum styles are almost identical in the way they play. André was his bass player and his sister Linda Anderson was his keyboard player. It was a tight little band that was really good. At one point in time, I auditioned for Prince’s band when he was about to go on tour. Honestly, I wasn’t good enough. He chose Doctor Fink and Lisa, and they could play circles around me. I was just happy for the opportunity.

http://www.waxpoetics.com...interview/

the full interview

Great interview.

Just wondering how his older brother Duane looked just like Prince, when they weren't even related? biggrin

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #3 posted 09/20/18 10:51am

OldFriends4Sal
e

avatar

moderator

PennyPurple said:

OldFriends4Sale said:

In part two of our interview, James Harris III breaks down his beginnings as a musician and shares his thoughts on his prolific recording career thus far.

by Chris Williams

Over the past three decades, James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence. They’ve created trailblazing sounds for numerous genre-bending artists and amassed a following only a few musicians can claim. Their production methods are legendary among their contemporaries and music aficionados alike. Through their ethereal talent and technical precision, they’ve influenced a new generation of musicians across different genres. During their partnership, Harris and Lewis have earned more than one hundred gold, platinum, multi-platinum, and diamond albums, and produced more than a hundred Billboard Top 10 songs, including twenty-six number one R&B and sixteen number one Hot 100 hit records.Their story of becoming the greatest producing tandem ever is truly awe-inspiring.

When you were growing up in Minneapolis, what was it like being the child of a famous local musician and how did it influence you to become a musician?

Jimmy Jam: Well, two things on that point. The fact that my dad was famous locally really didn’t have a lot to do with it once I got into my music career. I was around sixteen years old when I got serious in trying to produce records. So it didn’t really have anything to do with his fame. But growing up. there were always instruments lying around. My dad always had keyboards lying around the house, and it was very easy for me to be influenced by having access to those instruments. But my mom was also a big music lover. She was always playing records on the stereo. I never remember a day where music wasn’t being played. I remember my parents bought me a drum set when I was five years old. I used to bang around on that thing, and I know I drove them crazy. But what it led to was when I was twelve, my dad had a trio, and he would always have these different drummers come in every week. He could never keep a drummer in the band.

At one of the gigs, his drummer didn’t show up. So I ended up asking him, “Could I play a song?” He said, “Yeah, sure.” We played one song together. Then, the next week, he was still having problems with the drummer so I ended up playing a whole set. By the following week, my father’s band mate named Coffee told him, “Why don’t you let Jimmy go ahead and play the drums? He already knows all your songs.” So at the age of twelve, I was gigging every week at clubs playing with my dad. It obviously had a big influence on me getting a chance to play professionally. He tried to get out of paying me, but my mom was my agent. She told him he had to pay me just like any other drummer he would have in his band. I started a nice little savings account, so that was cool. His influence was huge to me in many, many ways. But the fact that he was famous really didn’t play a part, but him giving me the chance to play, and inheriting his musical genes was an important part of me getting to where I am today.

Who were some of the people you grew up with in your neighborhood that helped you along your musical journey?

I think the number one person would be Terry Lewis. I met Terry when I was thirteen, and we’ve been together ever since. He was a huge influence on me. When we met, he was a couple years older than me. He was a like a big brother figure and definitely turned me on to a lot of music. Growing up in Minneapolis, I grew up listening to a lot of pop music like America, the Carpenters, and all that kind of stuff. Terry was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and had relatives in Chicago and other places. He was up on all the really good music. He was the first one to turn me on to Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, and all those kind of bands. He was a major influence when I first met him. Then, it was the circle of musicians that were around me during that time in Minneapolis. All of us were in competing bands together. Prince had his own band. Morris Day was in that band with Prince back then. Alexander O’Neal was in our band back then too. Cynthia Johnson, who went on to sing “Funkytown” for Lipps Inc., was one of the singers in our band for quite a while. People like Sonny Thompson, who is probably the best musician to ever come from Minnesota, and André Cymone, who is actually a distant cousin of mine.

So there were a lot of great musicians up there, and everyone was competing to get ahead. I had my own group called Mind and Matter. It was a singing group modeled along the lines of Blue Magic. The Philadelphia sound was my favorite once I got into my teens. So whatever I would try to write would sound like Gamble & Huff or Thom Bell. They were my big influences. My group Mind and Matter consisted of guys who were older than me. I was like sixteen, and one of the guys in the group was a counselor at my high school. I was able to get out of class, and we would go write songs all day. These guys were a big influence on me, because they were in their twenties, and they were great singers. I just had a great musical environment growing up.

Jimmy-Jam-at-the-Taste-Show-Lounge.jpeg

Jimmy Jam at the Taste Show Lounge, circa 1980. Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

When and where did you meet Terry Lewis, and when did you decide to join forces in creating a band, and later a production duo?

We met at the University of Minnesota. We weren’t in college at the time. We were in a summer school program called Upward Bound. The course we were in was called Peer Teaching. What it was is you would learn math and, then, teach it to a kid who was a grade underneath you. So I was going into eigth grade and I was teaching seventh graders how to do math. I was good in school generally, but I wasn’t good at math. Interestingly enough, we met through education, which was cool. At this program, we stayed in dorms. I remember walking by Terry’s room, and he had this red, black, and green bass. He had this Kool and the Gang record just blasting. He was playing the bass part with Kool. I said to myself, “Who is this dude?” I was instantly attracted to him. I thought he was just cool. He was the older brother I didn’t have. He was a couple years older, and had the girls.

Later on, I found out he was a great athlete, but I didn’t know anything about him. We just hit it off. I used to play the piano in one of the lunchrooms, and Terry would hear me play. One day, he came up to me and said, “Hey man, I’m putting this group together to play at the end of the summer party. I want you to play keyboards.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t play keyboards. I play the drums.” He said, “No. But you play keyboards. I’ve heard you play before.” I said, “No, I just dabble with the keyboards. I don’t really play.” He said, “I already have a drummer.” I said, “But I play drums.” As it turned out, his drummer was Jellybean Johnson. So when I heard Jellybean Johnson play the drums, I said to Terry, “Yeah, let’s go get them keyboards.” We went and got my dad’s keyboards. And we ended up playing at this end of the summer function for the Upward Bound program. We didn’t have a singer, so we played everything as an instrumental.

After that, we kept in touch with each other. For a while, were trying to be in the same band, but Terry was trying to do a funk type of thing, and I was thinking more along the lines of doing a Philadelphia sound. We tried to write some songs together at that time, but it didn’t work. He would come up with this funky beat and I would put a pretty melody over top of it. Or I would come up with a pretty melody and he would put some funk thing down on it. It just wasn’t working. So we decided to keep being friends, but be in rival bands. I had my band Mind and Matter and he had Flyte Tyme, which was totally Parliament-Funkadelic-based. We used to do battle of the band shows where I would beat his band, and the next week he would beat mine.

For Terry and me, it was always about mutual respect and camaraderie. At some point in Terry’s mind, he knew we were going to get together at a certain point and time. Let’s fast forward from the Upward Bound thing to six years later when I’m spinning records at this club called the Fox Trap. I’m upstairs spinning records, and he’s downstairs playing live music with his band Flyte Tyme. He came upstairs to the DJ booth and he said, “Hey Jam, you ain’t no DJ. You need to come downstairs and check our show out.” I said, “Okay, what’s going on?” He said, “I have this new keyboard player, and he sings really good.” I said, “Okay, cool. I’ll be down there in a little bit.”

So I put on “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” was a seventeen-minute record. I knew this song would give me enough time to go downstairs to see what was going on. I walked in and they’re playing “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. I can hear the singer, but I can’t see him because he’s buried behind a bunch of keyboards. I was like, “Yeah, he does sound good.” I poke my head around the corner to see who it is, and it’s this little White dude. I’m saying to myself, “Who is the dude who is singing? It can’t be this White dude singing like that.” But it was. I was like, “This little White dude is bad!” So, I went back up to the DJ booth, and after the show, Terry came back up to me. He asked me, “What did you think of the keyboard player?” I told him, “Oh man, I loved it! It was great. I’m glad you found yourself a keyboard player because now you can quit chasing me and leave me alone.” [laughs]

By the way, the keyboard player was Monte Moir, and he ended up being in the Time. Terry told me, “We need two keyboard players. That’s the new thing. We’re going to have two keyboard players. You still have to join us.” I told him, “No, T. I’m just going to do my DJ thing. I’m done with making music right now.” But then, of course, there is a girl in every story, right? So, I was seeing this older girl. She was thirty, and I was eighteen or nineteen at the time. And it didn’t work out. I was literally walking home from her place and I heard this music playing from a recreational center, and I poked my head in the door and it was FlyteTyme. I walked in, and I said, “Hey, Terry, what’s going on, man?” He said, “Nothing, man.” I said, “What are you guys doing?” He said, “They’re letting us use this as a rehearsal hall. They let us rehearse here, and we play on the weekends.” I said, “You guys sound really good.” Terry asked me, “What are you up to?” I told him, “Nothing. I just broke up with this girl.” Terry said, “Well, this is the perfect time to join the band!” I said, “No, T. I’m not with it.” So the next day, Terry called me. He said, “Alright, Jam. What do we need to do to get you to join the band.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t even have my keyboards anymore. I sold all my keyboards. I got all DJ equipment.” He said, “We can get you keyboards. What kind of keyboards do you need?” Terry bought the keyboards and told me to just show up to their next rehearsal.

We started playing, and we just instantly clicked. We picked up right where we left off a few years prior. And we’ve been together ever since. Flyte Time literally turned into the Time within three to four weeks of me joining the group again. This is when the whole thing happened. Prince told us he would give us a record deal and wanted us to make a record. I guess it was all meant to be. I thank Terry to this day for his stubbornness.

Jimmy-Jam-Minnesota-Historical-Society.jpeg

Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

You said within a three- to four-week time period, Flyte Tyme turned into the Time. How did Terry come up with the name Flyte Tyme, and how did the group transform into the Time?

The name for the group came from a Donald Byrd album. We used to play their music all the time. The transition from Flyte Tyme to the Time happened like this: I joined the group, Alexander O’Neal was the lead singer, Jellybean Johnson was on drums, Monte Moir and me were on keyboards, and Terry Lewis was on bass. We didn’t have a guitar player at that time. That was basically the band. Prince was looking for a bass player because André Cymone quit his band. This was right after his Dirty Mind album. So Prince put out an ad for a bass player. Jesse Johnson answered the ad. He went and auditioned for Prince. Prince told him he was really good, but he needed a bass player, and not a guitar player. Jesse asked him what he should do. Prince basically told him he should stay around, and join one of the local bands. Jesse stuck around town and he joined Morris Day’s band called the Enterprise Band of Pleasure. A couple people came up to us after our gig one night and told us about this guitar player that Morris’s band had. They were telling us he was like Jimi Hendrix, because he would have twenty-minute guitar solos.

We decided to go check him out, and he was amazing. After the show, we went up to him and we asked, “Hey man, what is your name?” He said, “Jesse.” We said, “Our group is called Flyte Tyme, and we’re better than the band you’re with. No offense to anyone who is in the band with you. You should come join our band.” He asked us, “Where are you guys playing at?” We told him, “A place called the Nacirema.” He said, “I’m going to come and check you guys out.” We said, “Cool.” Jesse comes over, and checks our band out, and loves us. He said, “I’m going to join your band.” We said, “Okay, cool.” So he went to Morris and told him, “Hey man, I just talked to Terry Lewis, and I’m going to join Flyte Tyme.” And Morris said, “That’s cool. Go ahead and join them because pretty soon we’re all going to be in one band.” Jesse asked, “What do you mean?” Morris said, “Don’t worry about it. Go ahead and join them.” Jesse joined our band.

A week later, Prince calls a meeting, and he wanted all of us to come. The deal was Morris called Terry and told Terry that Prince wanted to meet with us and put our groups together as one. Terry was cool with it. Terry asked him, “How did this happen?” Morris told him, “There was this song called “Party Up” on the Dirty Mind album, and I came up with the track for it, and Prince took credit for it, and to return the favor, he said if I put a band together, he would get us a record deal. Y’all are the best band, so I’m just going to join your band and that’ll be our band. Let’s make a record.” We were all friends anyways because we all grew up together. Terry went to school with Morris, and we knew each other really well.

The weird problem we had is we had our band altogether. Jellybean Johnson was our drummer, but Morris was a drummer as well. So it was like wait a minute, if Morris is going to be our drummer and Alexander O’Neal is going to be our lead singer, then unless we’re going to have two drummers, that means Jellybean is out of the group, and that’s really messed up. So anyways, we go to this restaurant called Perkins, and we have this meeting with Prince. Prince sat down and started explaining what we were going to do. Alexander O’Neal was sitting there and he said, “First of all, Prince before we get started with the meeting, I have a few things I want to say. Alexander O’Neal needs paper.” Prince replied, “What do you mean, paper?” Alex said, “I need paper. This whole music thing is all fun and everything, but Alexander O’Neal needs to get paid. I need a new pool, a new car, and a new house.” He’s saying this and we’re sitting there saying to ourselves, “Are you nuts? What are you doing?” After that, they give him a steak and he said, “I’m going to go ahead and throw down on this steak? Y’all go ahead and talk.” So Prince and Morris get up and walk out. We said to him, “What did you just do? We’re trying to get a deal here.”Alex responded, “You have to give me some paper.”

We’re thinking the whole thing was off. A day later, I can’t remember if Morris called Terry or Prince called Terry, but I remember the conversation was real short. It was basically said that Alexander O’Neal was out, Jellybean is the drummer, Morris is going to be the singer, and we’re going to rehearse tomorrow at five o’clock. That was the conversation. Terry called everyone and told them that Alex was out of the group. This is how the Time was born. Alexander O’ Neal literally talked himself out of the group. It solved the lead singer and the drummer problem.

I didn’t hear you mention Jerome Benton. Where does he enter into the picture?

Jerome Benton was basically our roadie. He would set up our equipment and basically do all that type of stuff. The way Jerome got in the band was we were rehearsing at this same community center. It was called the YAASM, which stood for the Young African American Society of Minnesota. The guy who ran it was an older gentleman named Weaver. He was really nice to let us do it. He wanted to have an environment to keep the kids off the streets. It was a nice building he had there. At one of the rehearsals, we were working on one of our songs, and Jerome was sitting there listening. Prince was sitting there watching the rehearsal. When Morris told someone to bring him a mirror, Jerome grabs this huge mirror, and holds it in front of Morris. And Morris starts primpin’ in the mirror, and Prince falls out of his chair laughing. And Prince said, “That has to be in the show!” From that moment on, Jerome was part of the band.

When and where did you first meet Prince since he factors heavily into the equation regarding the beginning of your career?

For me, I went to school with Prince. We lived on the Southside of Minneapolis. Jellybean, Terry, Monte, Morris, and all those guys lived on the Northside of Minneapolis. They all went to North High School. Prince and I went to Central High School, but because of busing I was bussed to Washburn High School. But, during junior high, we both went to the same junior high school called Bryant Junior High. What we did was we took a music class together. Both of us already knew how to play, but we took this class because we were able to get out of class for an hour. The teacher would give us this song to learn how to play. One of the songs was “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” The teacher would tell us to learn it, and then come back an hour later. Of course, we knew how to play it. During the hour he was gone, we would put our headphones on at the keyboards, and we would just jam away.

By the way, Prince used to be a really good basketball player. People still laugh about this, but Prince could really play. He was a great ball handler. He had an older brother named Duane. Duane looked just like Prince, but he was six-three. They played together on the same teams, and they were really good basketball players. A lot of people knew Prince from basketball before they knew him as a musician. The thing that was cool about it was I remember that class was going to put a band together to play at this school play. I told them I would play drums and Prince said, “I’ll play guitar.” I looked at him because I didn’t know he could play guitar. I thought he only played keyboards. He said, “Yeah, I play the guitar too.”

So we get into our first rehearsal and Prince plugged his guitar in and he was unbelievable. He played “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, and the song had a guitar solo. And, if you played the guitar, it was like the go-to guitar solo. It was a great way of showing someone that you could really play the guitar. Prince ripped the solo note-for-note, and I was like, “Oh, my God!” I had no idea he was that good. I said to myself, “This is the baddest dude I’ve ever seen.” We took a break from the rehearsal. I went to the bathroom, and I heard someone playing the drums and they’re tearing them up. I was thinking it was the music teacher Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton was really good. So I walked out, and it was Prince sitting at the drums. We were twelve or thirteen at this time. If I remember correctly, Prince got his record deal when he was fifteen. We did the whole gig, and I remember a few years afterward someone told me that Prince played all the instruments on his demo. I told them I bet he did because I saw him do it before.


Terry got to know him through playing in different bands, battle of the band shows, and outdoor summer festivals. Everyone who was a musician knew each other. There were only a few places to rehearse in Minneapolis. One of them was called the Way, which was a community center in North Minneapolis. We got to know everybody. Prince’s band was really good. They were called Grand Central. Morris was his drummer, and he was an incredible drummer. Prince’s and Morris’s drum styles are almost identical in the way they play. André was his bass player and his sister Linda Anderson was his keyboard player. It was a tight little band that was really good. At one point in time, I auditioned for Prince’s band when he was about to go on tour. Honestly, I wasn’t good enough. He chose Doctor Fink and Lisa, and they could play circles around me. I was just happy for the opportunity.

http://www.waxpoetics.com...interview/

the full interview

Great interview.

Just wondering how his older brother Duane looked just like Prince, when they weren't even related? biggrin

No? Well the table are turned sister, I am now sitting in the classroom seat, you take the front of the class, tell please...

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #4 posted 09/20/18 11:34am

PennyPurple

avatar

OldFriends4Sale said:

PennyPurple said:

Great interview.

Just wondering how his older brother Duane looked just like Prince, when they weren't even related? biggrin

No? Well the table are turned sister, I am now sitting in the classroom seat, you take the front of the class, tell please...

Well take a seat, because you are about to be taught. lol


Duane was in no way related to Prince. John & Vivian Nelson divorced, Duane was Vivian Nelson's son by another man, but to save her from embarassment John Nelson signed the birth certificate and took the boy under his wing.


All of this came out when the heirs were named. Duane's children have fought to be included as heirs, on the basis that Duane was raised by John, therefore they should inherit Duane's share because he was raised as a brother to Prince even though they are not blood related.

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #5 posted 09/20/18 11:57am

purplethunder3
121

avatar

PennyPurple said:

OldFriends4Sale said:

No? Well the table are turned sister, I am now sitting in the classroom seat, you take the front of the class, tell please...

Well take a seat, because you are about to be taught. lol


Duane was in no way related to Prince. John & Vivian Nelson divorced, Duane was Vivian Nelson's son by another man, but to save her from embarassment John Nelson signed the birth certificate and took the boy under his wing.


All of this came out when the heirs were named. Duane's children have fought to be included as heirs, on the basis that Duane was raised by John, therefore they should inherit Duane's share because he was raised as a brother to Prince even though they are not blood related.

eek I've been taught. lol

"If you're living, you've got nothing left to prove..."
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #6 posted 09/20/18 12:01pm

PennyPurple

avatar

purplethunder3121 said:

PennyPurple said:

Well take a seat, because you are about to be taught. lol


Duane was in no way related to Prince. John & Vivian Nelson divorced, Duane was Vivian Nelson's son by another man, but to save her from embarassment John Nelson signed the birth certificate and took the boy under his wing.


All of this came out when the heirs were named. Duane's children have fought to be included as heirs, on the basis that Duane was raised by John, therefore they should inherit Duane's share because he was raised as a brother to Prince even though they are not blood related.

eek I've been taught. lol

lol

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #7 posted 09/20/18 12:09pm

OldFriends4Sal
e

avatar

moderator

PennyPurple said:

OldFriends4Sale said:

No? Well the table are turned sister, I am now sitting in the classroom seat, you take the front of the class, tell please...

Well take a seat, because you are about to be taught. lol


Duane was in no way related to Prince. John & Vivian Nelson divorced, Duane was Vivian Nelson's son by another man, but to save her from embarassment John Nelson signed the birth certificate and took the boy under his wing.


All of this came out when the heirs were named. Duane's children have fought to be included as heirs, on the basis that Duane was raised by John, therefore they should inherit Duane's share because he was raised as a brother to Prince even though they are not blood related.

welllll alllright now

ok that is news to add to the Purple 101 course

reading

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #8 posted 09/20/18 3:01pm

PennyPurple

avatar

OldFriends4Sale said:

PennyPurple said:

Well take a seat, because you are about to be taught. lol


Duane was in no way related to Prince. John & Vivian Nelson divorced, Duane was Vivian Nelson's son by another man, but to save her from embarassment John Nelson signed the birth certificate and took the boy under his wing.


All of this came out when the heirs were named. Duane's children have fought to be included as heirs, on the basis that Duane was raised by John, therefore they should inherit Duane's share because he was raised as a brother to Prince even though they are not blood related.

welllll alllright now

ok that is news to add to the Purple 101 course

reading

lol

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #9 posted 09/24/18 12:27pm

jungleluv

So Jerome's role in The Time was 2 hold a mirror 4 Morris and dance a little. Wow! Nice work. Did he do any singing or did he just mime? Play any instruments or write any songs?

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #10 posted 09/24/18 12:31pm

onlyforaminute

jungleluv said:

So Jerome's role in The Time was 2 hold a mirror 4 Morris and dance a little. Wow! Nice work. Did he do any singing or did he just mime? Play any instruments or write any songs?



He added a well enjoyed charisma and personality.

"You want to know your biggest fault? You don’t keep true accounts: you put a high value on what you’ve given, a low value on what you’ve received."

- Seneca, On Anger 3.31.3
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #11 posted 09/26/18 12:31pm

jungleluv

onlyforaminute said:

jungleluv said:

So Jerome's role in The Time was 2 hold a mirror 4 Morris and dance a little. Wow! Nice work. Did he do any singing or did he just mime? Play any instruments or write any songs?



He added a well enjoyed charisma and personality.

That's true. But what did he contribute musically? I have the same question about his role in The Family.What did he actually DO? confuse

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #12 posted 09/26/18 12:59pm

purplethunder3
121

avatar

Morris Day wouldn't have been as enjoyable without Jerome as a side kick...and I enjoyed him as Prince's side kick in UTCM.

"If you're living, you've got nothing left to prove..."
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #13 posted 09/26/18 6:12pm

onlyforaminute

jungleluv said:

onlyforaminute said:



He added a well enjoyed charisma and personality.

That's true. But what did he contribute musically? I have the same question about his role in The Family.What did he actually DO? confuse



I'd say listen to some interviews, read some stuff and you'll get what was going on. His stage presence was awesome that's all I can vouch for. And I adore UTCM, so there's that.

"You want to know your biggest fault? You don’t keep true accounts: you put a high value on what you’ve given, a low value on what you’ve received."

- Seneca, On Anger 3.31.3
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #14 posted 09/27/18 1:24am

Shango

avatar

OldFriends4Sale said:


Opener_JimmyJam-620x410.png


>So there were a lot of great musicians up there, and everyone was competing to get ahead. I had my own group called Mind and Matter. It was a singing group modeled along the lines of Blue Magic. The Philadelphia sound was my favorite once I got into my teens. So whatever I would try to write would sound like Gamble & Huff or Thom Bell. They were my big influences. My group Mind and Matter consisted of guys who were older than me. I was like sixteen, and one of the guys in the group was a counselor at my high school. I was able to get out of class, and we would go write songs all day. These guys were a big influence on me, because they were in their twenties, and they were great singers. I just had a great musical environment growing up.

Jimmy-Jam-at-the-Taste-Show-Lounge.jpeg

Jimmy Jam at the Taste Show Lounge, circa 1980. Photo by Charles Chamblis. Source: Minnesota Historical Society



Later on, I found out he was a great athlete, but I didn’t know anything about him. We just hit it off. I used to play the piano in one of the lunchrooms, and Terry would hear me play. One day, he came up to me and said, “Hey man, I’m putting this group together to play at the end of the summer party. I want you to play keyboards.” I told him, “Terry, I don’t play keyboards. I play the drums.” He said, “No. But you play keyboards. I’ve heard you play before.” I said, “No, I just dabble with the keyboards. I don’t really play.” He said, “I already have a drummer.” I said, “But I play drums.” As it turned out, his drummer was Jellybean Johnson. So when I heard Jellybean Johnson play the drums, I said to Terry, “Yeah, let’s go get them keyboards.” We went and got my dad’s keyboards. And we ended up playing at this end of the summer function for the Upward Bound program. We didn’t have a singer, so we played everything as an instrumental.



After that, we kept in touch with each other. For a while, were trying to be in the same band, but Terry was trying to do a funk type of thing, and I was thinking more along the lines of doing a Philadelphia sound. We tried to write some songs together at that time, but it didn’t work. He would come up with this funky beat and I would put a pretty melody over top of it. Or I would come up with a pretty melody and he would put some funk thing down on it. It just wasn’t working. So we decided to keep being friends, but be in rival bands. I had my band Mind and Matter and he had Flyte Tyme, which was totally Parliament-Funkadelic-based. We used to do battle of the band shows where I would beat his band, and the next week he would beat mine.







"...Mind & Matter performing at Uncle Sam's, the future site of the now-legendary Minneapolis music venue, First Avenue. Features an 18-year-old Jimmy "Jam" Harris III on the honher clavinet and Roland synthesizer (worn as a keytar). The group's full-length debut deferred, 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement), is now available on CD/LP from Numero Group. Both "Sunshine Lady" and "I'm Under Your Spell" from the Mind & Matter's sought after 45 appear on Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (release date: 12/3/13) and were remastered from the original stereo mixes..."

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #15 posted 09/27/18 1:43am

SoulAlive

onlyforaminute said:

jungleluv said:

That's true. But what did he contribute musically? I have the same question about his role in The Family.What did he actually DO? confuse



I'd say listen to some interviews, read some stuff and you'll get what was going on. His stage presence was awesome that's all I can vouch for. And I adore UTCM, so there's that.

Interestingly,in late 1986,Jerome left the Prince camp and signed a solo deal with A&M Records.Apparently,nothing ever came of it.I'm not sure if he can sing or not biggrin

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #16 posted 09/27/18 3:17am

Shango

avatar

SoulAlive said:



onlyforaminute said:




jungleluv said:



That's true. But what did he contribute musically? I have the same question about his role in The Family.What did he actually DO? confuse





I'd say listen to some interviews, read some stuff and you'll get what was going on. His stage presence was awesome that's all I can vouch for. And I adore UTCM, so there's that.





Interestingly,in late 1986,Jerome left the Prince camp and signed a solo deal with A&M Records.Apparently,nothing ever came of it.I'm not sure if he can sing or not biggrin


Not shure, but i remember a discussion about it on the org. There is or was an interview video with The Time online. Jerome explained about his musical input/role for the band. I believe he told that it was mainly his stage act?
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
  New topic   Printable     (Log in to 'subscribe' to this topic)
« Previous topic  Next topic »
Forums > Associated artists & people > Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have become synonymous with recording excellence