The Time and Bruno Mars honored Prince with a stirring, relentlessly funky tribute segment at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
It’s hard to imagine a group better suited to honor Prince than the Time. They were close collaborators in the 1980s, with Prince writing and producing much of the music on the Time’s early, classic trio of albums: The Time, What Time Is It?, and Ice Cream Castle. Members of the Time also appeared opposite Prince in the 1984 movie Purple Rain.
The Time kicked off the tribute with “Jungle Love” from 1984’s Ice Cream Castle. It’s a perfect distillation of the Prince funk sound: screaming guitars, popping bass and stabbing synthesizers all uniting in merciless groove. “You have about 10 seconds to get up off of your asses,” lead singer Morris Day shouted. Later, during “The Bird,” Day executed a smooth slide across the stage.
After the Time, Mars took over for a rendition of Prince’s full-tilt rave-up “Let’s Go Crazy.” As the famous Prince symbol glowed in the background, Mars stood center stage in a snug purple suit with ruffles at the neck, a crisp white guitar and even a touch of eyeliner – the spitting image of Purple Rain-era Prince. Mars erupted into a smoldering guitar solo without missing a beat, and his band ended the tribute presenting a united front, with guitarists and horn players vamping in a single line.