The Inside Story Of How Bruno Mars & The Time United To Celebrate Prince

During last night’s (February 12) 59th Grammy Awards, one of the most impactful voices in music history was honored. Prince, who died in late April of last night, was celebrated through a tribute by one of his closest collaborators, and a contemporary Pop superstar that he has greatly influenced.

The Time, a group that worked closely with Prince since high school (care of André Cymone) performed 1984 hit “Jungle Love.” In the iconic garb, lead singer Morris Day rocked the stage, and even laced the “Jerome, bring me my mirror” routine in a deeply dynamic stage act. That Ice Cream Castle song was notably produced by Prince (as “The Starr Company”). Like his second highest-charting hit (behind 1990’s “Jerk Out”), Morris’ dance moves have not aged a day.

The original 1984 music video:

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The Time stayed on stage as Bruno Mars entered to perform another 1984 hit. Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was the second #1 for the Minneapolis, Minnesota legend (following previous Purple Rain single “When Doves Cry”). Bruno, dressed as Prince appeared in the film Purple Rain, complete with a blouse and mascara.

“Bruno [Mars] ripped it up,” Morris Day said backstage after the performance, according to The Star Tribune. “I don’t think there’s another artist who could pull it off as perfectly with us.” The Atlantic Records star was reportedly at the top of the list of tribute-worthy performers. One year ago, Lady Gaga was tasked with paying homage to David Bowie, who passed away just weeks before the Grammys.

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Mars, with guitar in hand, played out the climactic end to “Let’s Go Crazy” alongside The Time, as the crowd of musician show-goers rocked along. Legendary producer Jimmy Jam, who was keyboardist during last night’s performance (and personally thanked by Chance The Rapper earlier in the night from the Grammy podium) chided, “We still kicked [Bruno Mars’] ass.”

When approached by Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, about doing a Prince tribute, Jimmy Jam said “I gave Neil a broad stroke answer and said I think it needs to include people who were associated with Prince. Whether it was the Revolution, New Power Generation or whoever,” The report states that Bruno Mars was contacted by Jam, on behalf of Portnow, and would only perform if the original members of The Time were involved. Additionally, Mars was reportedly told by Portnow that certain songs were off the table for covers, including “When Doves Cry” and “I Would Die 4 U,” out of respect to Prince. The Star Tribune report notes that Mars spent weeks toiling over what he would perform, before settling on his choice.

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Mars also performed earlier in the night from his recently released 24K Magic LP. The Time last released Condensate (as The Original 7ven) in 2011 on Saguaro Road Records. Charting at #58, it was the band’s first LP in 21 years. Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jerome Benton, Monte Moir, Jessie Johnson, and Jellybean Johnson were all involved.