Morris Day has accused Prince’s estate of trying to “rewrite history” in light of news that the late singer’s estate—currently represented by Comerica—has banned him from using his 40-year-old stage name, Morris Day and The Time.
The 64-year-old crooner took to social media on Thursday (Mar. 3) with an impassioned statement. “I’ve given 40 years of my life building up a name and legacy that Prince and I came up with. A name that while he was alive, he had no problem with me using. I literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into bringing value to that name,” he wrote.
He confirmed that Prince “not once ever” said that Day wasn’t allowed to use the stage name.
In response to the revelation, Prince’s estate released the following statement: “Given Prince’s longstanding history with Morris Day and what the Estate thought were amicable discussions, the Prince Estate was surprised and disappointed to see his recent post. The Estate is open to working proactively with Morris to resolve this matter. However, the information that he shared is not entirely accurate.”
The issue was allegedly sparked by Day filing paperwork to trademark “Morris Day and The Time.”
The estate’s backpedaling led Day to share the court documents with Billboard from legal firm Fredrikson & Byron, dated Dec. 13, that read, “Accordingly, Mr. Day has no right to use or register ‘The Time’ in any form. That includes use and registration of the trademark ‘Morris Day and the Time.’”
The estate claims that a 1982 agreement between Day and Prince stated that the Purple Rain singer would own the rights to the band’s name. Though fans tried to blame this ownership issue on L. Londell McMillan, Prince’s longtime lawyer and manager, he clarified on Twitter that he is not to blame as he doesn’t run Prince’s estate and he is standing by Morris Day per the hashtag, #LetMorrisDayUseName.
COMERICA AND THEIR ADVISORS CURRENTLY RUN THE PRINCE ESTATE. I THINK THIS IS HORRIBLE. I SUPPORT MORRIS DAY ? WE CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE OVER THE ESTATE FROM THOSE IN CHARGE. HOPEFULLY SOON… ??? #LetMorrisDayUseName https://t.co/24VcqSd8D2
— L Londell McMillan (@LondellMcMillan) March 3, 2022
Day’s attorney, Richard B. Jefferson, argued that the estate’s claims about the 1982 agreement are inaccurate. “The written agreement between the parties gives our client the exclusive right to continue as Morris Day and the Time and is consistent with Prince’s long-standing consent,” Jefferson told Billboard.
Prince died in April 2016 without a will, sparking a six-year legal battle over ownership of his estate. In January 2022, his estate was estimated to be worth $156.4 million, which will be split between Primary Wave and Prince’s siblings and their advisors. However, until those proceedings formally end, Comerica and Day are disputing over the ownership of Morris Day and The Time.
Correction: 2:05 p.m. PT (Mar. 5, 2022) – An earlier version of this article implied that Primary Wave is partially responsible for this legal battle over the ownership of Morris Day and The Time. Primary Wave has issued a clarifying statement to VIBE that reads, “Comerica is the trustee and personal representative for the Prince estate. Primary Wave does not currently have any say in the affairs of the estate while it remains in probate. We have reached out to Comerica to let them know that we do not agree with their decision and believe they should do the right thing here, which is to let Morris Day continue to use the name. Morris Day has Primary Wave’s full support.”