Days after the Prince estate sparked outrage by moving to block longtime collaborator Morris Day from using his band name “The Time,” the people who will soon take over control of the estate say they fully support Day’s right to keep using his name.
The controversial move, which prompted Day to complain on social media that the estate was “taking my name away from me,” was instigated by Comerica — a bank that has been serving as the court-appointed administrator of Prince’s assets during a years-long legal battle.
But those proceedings are nearly complete and set to wrap up later this year, and the groups of heirs that will soon take control of the estate are now speaking out in Day’s favor.
Primary Wave, a prominent music company that has acquired a 50 percent stake in Prince’s estate by buying out several heirs, released a statement Saturday (March 5) that it “does not currently have any say in the affairs of the estate” but opposed Comerica’s tactics with Day.
“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,” Primary Wave said. “Morris Day has Primary Wave’s full support.”
Meanwhile, L. Londell McMillan, an attorney and advisor who represents the group of heirs that will control the other 50 percent of the estate, voiced a similar sentiment on Twitter.
“COMERICA AND THEIR ADVISORS CURRENTLY RUN THE PRINCE ESTATE,” McMillan tweeted. “I THINK THIS IS HORRIBLE. I SUPPORT MORRIS DAY [100 percent.] WE CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE OVER THE ESTATE FROM THOSE IN CHARGE. HOPEFULLY SOON.”
A spokeswoman for the estate did not immediately return a request for comment on Primary Wave and McMillan’s comments. In a previous statement, the estate said the discussion with Day had been “amicable” and that it was “surprised and disappointed to see his recent post.”
Day, the frontman for the Prince-affiliated funk band The Time, kicked off the controversy on Thursday when he claimed in a Facebook post that the Prince estate had told him he could no longer use the name “Morris Day and The Time.” He said Prince had never voiced such objections before he died in 2016 of a fentanyl overdose.
“The people who control his multi million dollar estate want to rewrite history by taking my name away from me, thus impacting how I feed my family,” Day wrote in the post. “So as of now, per the Prince Estate, I can no longer use Morris Day & The Time in any capacity.”
Day’s post was sparked by a December letter from the estate’s attorneys, in which they told him he had “no right” to use the band name “in any form.” The letter cited a 1982 agreement in which Day allegedly agreed that Prince’s company would retain control of the trademark rights to “The Time.” The estate then offered to license the name back to Day for an undisclosed price.
In a practical sense, the new statements from Primary Wave and McMillan mean that Day will likely be allowed to use the “The Time” name in the long run. But exactly when the heirs will assume control is not entirely clear.
A tax settlement with the IRS in January was the final major hurdle to closing the estate proceedings, and a judge approved a rough plan last month for distributing Prince’s assets. The parties expect the case to close during 2022, but there is no hard schedule for doing so.