Minneapolis Sound Museum honors local music legends

North Minneapolis is the birthplace of what is known as the "Minneapolis Sound." Pioneered by Prince, a long legacy of local musicians also contributed to the music.

FOX 9's Bisi Onile-Ere sat down for a one-on-one interview with legendary guitarist and drummer Jellybean Johnson. "If there’s one word that you could use to describe the Minneapolis Sound, what would it be," asked Bisi. Johnson responded laughing, "Funky."

A blend of rock, R&B and funk, the Minneapolis Sound emerged from the city’s northside in the late 1970s.

"The Minneapolis sound is Prince," said Johnson.

His music career began young. "We had to be 14, 15,16 years old. Oh yeah, we started early honey. Yes, we did," said Johnson. His love of music kept him busy. "That kept us off the streets, we had a place where we could go and practice our craft," said Johnson.

Like Prince, Johnson got his start in north Minneapolis. "We had rival bands when we were growing up. Prince had Grand Central, and we had Flyte Tyme," said Johnson.

Bisi: "How did you know that you had something special?"
Johnson: "Well that’s the thing, we didn’t. We were hoping, wishing and wondering and hoping we was."

He is an original member of Flyte Tyme, and longtime drummer for The Time. From Prince to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to Morris Day, Johnson stands among the greats. With a career now spanning decades, his path leads him back to his roots.

"Detroit has Motown, Memphis has Stax. We want our own little spot over here, "said Johnson.

A new act has now taken center stage. "I want to put a spotlight on the others who came along with Prince but they weren’t famous like him," said Johnson.

He's working to establish The Minneapolis Sound Museum. It would be a permanent tribute composed of everyone who contributed to the genre of music. "When you come to town, you can go to Paisley, but you can come to our spot and see all of the other history with Prince, all of us, that led to him becoming the force that he was," said Johnson. In addition to the museum, the plan is to build a recording studio, event space, and retail shop in north Minneapolis."

"We want to give these kids over here some hope because there’s a lot of kids over here that still struggle but we want to give them some hope that there is another way," said Johnson.

Honoring the legacy of the Minneapolis sound without missing a beat. With planning in the early stages, Johnson hopes his efforts strike a chord with those in the community. "We want to make the northside a vibrant place where people can come and see that we have something good over here," said Johnson. 

"Tales From The Northside; Stories of the Minneapolis Sound" is a fundraising event taking place June 7 from 6-10 p.m. at The Historic Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway, North Minneapolis. For ticket information click on the link below.