Throwback: Jesse Johnson-Be Your Man

Jesse Johnson is best known as the original guitarist for The Time. His early years were spent between his native Rock Island, Illinois and St. Louis. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981 and met Morris Day. Enterprise was the name of the group that Day was fronting at the time and he invited Johnson to be his guitar player. When Prince took members Terry Lewis, Jimmy “Jam” Harris, Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson from local funk band Flyte Tyme, he added Day as the singer and enlisted Johnson to be the guitarist for his new band The Time. Johnson’s virtuosic funk/rock guitar playing gave shrill sonic voltage to the band’s jams “777-9311,” “Jungle Love,” “Get It Up” and “Ice Cream Castle.” Johnson also received credit for co-writing Bite The Beat” with Prince on the Vanity Six project. In addition to playing guitar he co-wroten The Time singles “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.” By 1984 the band broke-up and Johnson signed a solo deal with A&M Records. Jesse Johnson’s Revue would come out the next year and produce three singles “Be Your Man,” “Can You Help Me” and “I Want My Girl.” That same year Johnson produced an album for a group Ta Mara And The Seen who had success with the single “Affection” and “Everybody Dance.” By the time of his second solo album Shockedelica was released in 1986 Johnson had managed to fulfill a dream Prince never did by working with Sly Stone on the R&B hit “Crazay.” Every Shade Of Love was his next solo release in 1988 and it maintained the solidity of his previous works. The Time reunited in 1990 for the Prince movie “Graffiti Bridge” and a new album Pandemonium. After the reunion projects Johnson did a lot of soundtrack work for the films “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Another 48 Hours,” “White Men Can’t Jump” and “A Time To Kill.” Bare My Naked Soul in 1996 would be his return to solo recording. Soul would unravel Johnson’s complete Jimi Hendrix sensibilities giving his fans the kind of guitar work that was usually sidestepped for the R&B side of things. Ultimate Collection in 2000 compiled his essential singles, B-sides, 12″ versions and the unreleased song “Vibe.” In October of 2009 Johnson returned with the outstanding double album Verbal Penetration Volumes 1 and 2.