Morris Day Tells the Full Story of ‘Partyup': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
It is well known that Prince frequently gave other musicians – typically, his protege bands – official credit for songs that he actually wrote. But with “Partyup,” Morris Day actually turned the tables on his childhood friend.
The funny part is, Day didn’t really like what Prince did with the song.
In the early ’80s, Day’s group the Time were the covert beneficiary of Prince’s composing skills on many occasions, as he anonymously wrote or co-wrote nearly every song on their first three albums. But the first time the duo made a secret songwriting deal, it was Day who provided the track.
“Well, I had the groove, you know,” Day told Diffuser, confirming the oft-reported story that it was he and not Prince who wrote the music for the upbeat anti-war anthem on 1980’s Dirty Mind.
Although Day considered the future superstar “stand-offish” when they first met as teenagers, he and Prince became Grand Central bandmates in 1974, and eventually best friends. When Day returned to Minneapolis in 1980 after stints living in Maryland and California, Prince had already secured his solo record contract with Warner Brothers.
“By then, he already had his situation up and running,” Day explains. “He knew I was back in town. We started hanging out again. I started playing drums on a lot of tracks. We were jamming a lot, writing stuff together. He told me, ‘You can use my studio to put your own thing together.’ Well, the first thing that I started to cut was ‘Partyup.’ It was a lot slower and funkier, but he liked it and he wanted it. It was just a bass and drum track at that point, but he wanted it. So he said, ‘I’ll offer you money, or I’ll help you get your record deal.’ I said, ‘I’ll take the record deal.’”
Amusingly, Day was surprised and not entirely thrilled with Prince’s approach to his track. “You know what? I didn’t like it as much as the direction I was going in. He kind of took it to a funk-rock kind of thing. That’s when he was in his whole Dirty Mind state of mind. My approach was a lot funkier. I was a funkateer back then; I didn’t want to hear anything if it wasn’t funky.
“So no,” he laughingly concludes, “I didn’t like the direction.”
Well, then … what are the chances Day releases his own version of “Partyup,” in order for the world to hear it the way he intended? “You know, that’s a good idea,” he says. “I might do that one of these days.”
True to his word, Prince helped Day form the Time early in 1981; they largely crafted the group’s first three albums alone in the studio, then assembled a crack live band featuring future producing superstars Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
The Time went on to become a huge success, scoring several hit singles such as 1984’s “Jungle Love” and 1990’s Top 10 smash “Jerk Out.” Day continues to tour with a version of the band today.
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