TIR 58: How Jellybean Johnson Put the Pound in the Minneapolis Sound

Jellybean Johnson shown far right with the other original Time members.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 58 (two segments): Drummer-guitarist-composer-producer Jellybean Johnson, best known as one of the original members of the Prince protege funk group and eventual superband The Time. Jellybean, along with Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson and Monte Moir, a previous TRUTH IN RHYTHM guest, were the killer lineup associated with two spectacular funk-rock albums of the early 1980s — a self-titled debut and What Time Is It? — and then 1990’s comeback set, Pandemonium, and 2011’s Condensate under the non-Prince-restricted name The Original Seven. The guys were blocked from using The Time name for what was one of the best funk discs of this decade.

In 1984, when Prince dismissed Jam and Lewis from the original Time lineup, with Moir following, Jellybean stayed on along with Day and Jesse Johnson for the Ice Cream Castles album and an appearance in the hit motion picture, Purple Rain. During 1990’s reunited phase, The Time’s original members also appeared in the Graffiti Bridge film and placed tracks on its soundtrack. Among The Time’s classic tracks are “Get It Up,” “Cool,” “Wild and Loose,” “777-9311,” “The Walk,” “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” “Jerk Out,” “Ice Cream Castles,” “Jungle Love,” “The Bird,” “Release It,” “My Drawers,” “Shake” and “Tricky.”

While Prince was responsible for most of the music on The Time’s first two records, the band proved to be sheer dynamite on stage with an engaging, energetic and entertaining style as a supremely funky act in its own right. Through the years the depth of talent among group members made itself known as each member went on to their own success. Jellybean went on to become a member of another Prince protege act known as The Family, which was even shorter lived than The Time. The group released just one album, 1985’s terrific self-titled record that featured “High Fashion,” “Mutiny” and the hit “Screams of Passion.” Notably, the record also included the original version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” that would become a No. 1 pop smash for Sinead O’Connor a few years later. During those same years, Jellybean became a key contributor to Jam & Lewis’ Flyte Tyme production team, working on hits for Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle, Nona Hendryx, New Edition, Janet Jackson and others.

For more than the past 20 years, Jellybean has performed with a touring lineup of Morris Day & The Time that also includes fellow original member Moir. In addition, besides playing on The OriginalSeven’s Condensate album in 2011, Jellybean regrouped with The Family that same year under the name fDeluxe with the strong Gaslight album — 26 years after the act’s debut! Yep, Prince refused to allow use of the original group name again. Since then fDeluxe has continued to record and tour. More recently, Jellybean has formed The Jellybean Johnson Experience to unleash a big surprise to many — he absolutely shreds on the guitar as the band focuses on funk, rock and blues. The JJE has performed several shows and a debut album is in the works.

Here, Jellybean shares how he got his start in music and to get all the juicy details on the inner workings of Prince, The Time and all its members, The Family and fDeluxe, and how he is still going strong and the new projects he is pursuing. He pulls no punches telling it like it was and how it is. Presenting one of the most important funk and R&B musicians of the past 37 years, Mr. Garry George Johnson, better known as Jellybean.

Recorded June 2018