Morris Day is having a bad time with the Prince estate.
In posts Thursday on Instagram and Facebook, the Minneapolis music legend claimed that the estate is disallowing him from using “Morris Day & the Time” as a band name after four decades as the Time’s frontman.
“Now that Prince is no longer is with us, suddenly the people who control his multi-million-dollar estate want to rewrite history by taking my name away from me,” Day wrote on Facebook, accusing the estate of “impacting how I feed my family.”
However, representatives of Prince’s estate — which is administered by Comerica Bank & Trust — say Day’s claims are “not entirely accurate.”
“Given Prince’s longstanding history with Morris Day and what the Estate thought were amicable discussions, the Prince Estate was surprised and disappointed to see his recent post,” the estate said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The Estate is open to working proactively with Morris to resolve this matter.”
An attorney for the three Prince siblings who still own a stake in the estate — three others sold their rights to a music-management company — said Day’s claim was news to them.
“There was no discussion of this with the heirs,” said L. Londell McMillan, adding: “Comerica is very odd in how they do things.”
McMillan, a New York entertainment lawyer who once worked with Prince, represents Prince’s sisters Sharon Nelson and Norrine Nelson and the estate of brother John “Johnny” Nelson, who died Sept. 3. In a tweet Thursday, McMillan called the decision “horrible. I support Morris Day,” adding the hashtag #LetMorrisDayUseName.
Prince famously created the Time in 1981, serving as producer and songwriter under the pseudonym Jamie Starr. The group scored a series of R&B hits including “Cool” and “Jungle Love” and was featured prominently in two Prince movies, “Purple Rain” in 1984 and “Graffiti Bridge” in 1990.
Prince retained rights to the band’s name. When its original members, including producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, reunited with Day for the 2011 album “Condensate,” Prince would not let them release it as the Time, so they recorded and performed as the Original 7ven instead. However, the lead singer has continued performing as Morris Day and the Time, a lineup that includes founding drummer Jellybean Johnson.
In his Facebook post, Day pointed out that Prince — a childhood friend of his — booked him as “Morris Day and the Time” many times to perform at Paisley Park. So did Prince’s family for their posthumous Celebration festival in 2017 at the Chanhassen studio-turned-museum.
Reached by telephone Thursday afternoon, Day said, “Everything’s kind of crazy.” He declined to go into specifics. “This has created a storm of response. I don’t want to talk about it right now. There will be a time when it’s appropriate to talk.”
His post argued that he deserves ownership of the name: “I’ve given 40 years of my life to building up a name and legacy that Prince and I came up with. A name that when he was alive, he had no problem with me using. I literally put my blood, sweat and tears into bringing value to that name.”
Fans largely reacted with support for Day. “This isn’t OK. I’m ready to boycott everything estate-released,” one fan posted on his Facebook page.
Another wrote, “They seem hell-bent on dismantling his legacy sometimes.”