The Time's Jesse Johnson

Today is the 38th birthday of Jesse Johnson, the former guitarist for Morris

Day & the Time, the '80s funk band from Minneapolis that followed in the

footsteps of its mentor, Prince, the king of the Twin Cities'

pop/soul music scene. Johnson is a student of the Jimi Hendrix school

of guitar playing and has been recording hard-rocking funk-rock on his own

since the Time broke up in the late '80s. He has also produced and

worked with a number of artists, including Paula Abdul, Kool Skool and

Sue Ann.

As a youth in Illinois, Johnson loved such musicians as Hendrix, Led

Zeppelin, Curtis Mayfield and traditional blues artists including B.B.

King and Muddy Waters. Johnson joined the Time, who began playing

together in 1981, and they went on to become the first musical pet

project of The Artist, back when he was known as Prince. The Time were

fronted by the outrageously cocky but charming Morris Day, but a key

part of the band's sound was Johnson's rock-influenced guitar.

The Time's only big hit album was 1984's Ice Cream Castle, which had

pop appeal in the form of such radio favorites as "Jungle Love" and "The

Bird." The album also benefited from the popularity of the Minneapolis

funk sound that was in the spotlight because of the enormous success of

Prince's Purple Rain album and film of that year. The Time even

appeared in the movie with Prince. Other albums by the Time in the '80s

include their '81 eponymous debut album and the next year's What

Time Is It?.

Johnson grew restless in the band and, by the end of

the decade, the Time broke up. Day's solo career was much less

successful than his high profile in the band indicated that it might be, but

Johnson went on to make critically acclaimed music. Other Time members

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis became one of the most successful production

teams in recording history, jump-starting the career of Janet Jackson

and recording the Human League and others.

Johnson's well-received albums include 1985's Jesse Johnson's

Revue, 1986's Shockadelica, which featured "Crazay" with Sly

Stone, and 1988's Every Shade of Love (all on A&M Records).

After signing with Dinosaur Entertainment Corp., Johnson released

Bare My Naked Soul, a bluesy outing, in 1996. The single "My

Life" received considerable AOR airplay. He also has produced for

artists such as After 7, Wendy & Lisa and Paula Abdul (Johnson worked

with her on her biggest success, 1989's Forever Your Girl), and he has

written songs for Sheila E., Janet Jackson and others. Johnson's work

has been featured on soundtracks to such films as "White Men Can't

Jump," "Pretty In Pink," "The Five Heartbeats" and "A Time To Kill."

In 1990, the Time re-formed, with Johnson, for the critically hailed

Pandemonium. It wasn't a lasting reunion, but the group has been

touring for the last few years in various incarnations. Johnson is

reportedly working on another solo album, as well as participating in a

new Time release.

Other birthdays: Irmin Schmidt (Can), 61; Roy Crewsdon (Freddie and the

Dreamers), 57; Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), 53; Mike Rossi (Status Quo), 49;

Rebbie Jackson, 48; Larry Blackmon (Cameo), 42; Mel Gaynor (Simple Minds),

39; and Melissa Etheridge,