Rick James
Singer, songwriter, dancer, bandleader, record producer
Rick James
Rick James was an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, best known for being the major popularizer of funk music in the late 1970s and early 1980s thanks to million-selling hits such as "You and I", "Give It to Me Baby" (1981) and "Super Freak" (1981), the latter song crossing him over to pop audiences and selling over three million copies, later contributing to the success of rapper MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" (1990), which James sued to be credited for.
Biography
Rick James's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Rick James from around the web
Neil Young: A Timely, and Timeless, Appeal
Huffington Post - 5 months
"The end of this war? The end of this war is when we solve the energy problem. This war is going on for a long, long time. This war will not go away until we figure out what we're doing here on the planet. This is a bad war." Neil Young 'The Charlie Rose Show' July 17, 2008 Even as his quirky yet essential place in the rock music pantheon was affirmed this month by his thunderously successful appearances at Desert Trip -- the massive, ultra-expensive mega-festival outside Palm Springs, California for classic rock aficionados, which also featured the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Who, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, and Bob Dylan -- recent events had also affirmed Young's sociopolitical relevance. Earlier in the year, Young, a staunch backer of Bernie Sanders, feuded ferociously with Donald Trump over the climate change denier and racism inciter's insistence on using Young's corrosively anti-corporate 'Rockin' in the free world' as his incongruous campaign song. Aft ...
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Huffington Post article
Lizzo: ‘This time I tried to be more benevolent than belligerent’
Guardian (UK) - about 1 year
The US hip-hop artist on her slightly less angry second album, costly Rick James references – and not quite meeting Prince Lizzo, aka Melissa Jefferson, was born in Detroit in 1988, raised in Houston and now lives in Minneapolis. Her music is as peripatetic as her background, skipping from southern rap to soul to indie rock. In 2011 she helped form the female rap/R&B group the Chalice, and in 2013 released her solo debut, Lizzobangers, co-produced by Gayngs frontman Ryan Olson. Her highly acclaimed second album, Big GRRRL Small World, is out now. You’ve moved around a lot. How would you describe your sound? Continue reading...
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Guardian (UK) article
The "White Child" That Killed My Father
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Rehearsing tragedy never fully prepares you for the moment it comes to pass. The pain is no duller. The grief is no less consuming. I learned that today. I've prepared for this moment my whole life; yet now that I'm here, I feel so unprepared, so unequipped to handle the gravity of the situation. Somehow it all feels so surreal. My mind is rejecting the reality, refusing to let go. My body is completely paralyzed by the finality of it all. "He's gone." said a broken whisper uttered by my sister. The man who helped give us life had finally lost his battle with [crack] cocaine addiction. The same addictive spirit that deprived us of a parent has robbed him of his life, 57 years young. Even after thirty years of drug abuse, a small part of me held on to the belief that he would one day claim victory and defeat his addiction. That dream died along with him today. Moreover his death, this reality has been the hardest to accept. As he goes, so goes a lifelong unfulfilled prayer. There are no ...
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Huffington Post article
19 Musicians That Give Us Major Hair Envy
Huffington Post - over 1 year
This post is part of a weekly series celebrating #ThrowbackThursday with reflections of our favorite childhood memories, past pop culture moments and more! Many reggae and hip-hop artists throughout history -- from Rick James to Meek Mill -- have rocked their long hair unapologetically.  From picked-out puffs to press and curls and tight braids, musicians have rocked hairstyles that exemplified the ultimate #hairgoals for everyone. Looking at their tresses make us want to never forget to schedule our bi-weekly hair appointment, moisturize our scalps and sleep with a satin scarf on at night.  Since none of these artists have started a natural hair YouTube channel yet (a pity, we know), we decided to pay homage to the glorious manes. Pay attention because your next hairstyle inspiration may lie within the hair of these 19 men: CollectionContent(5628f6dae4b0443bb562d9c8,561ea958e4b050c6c4a3f77b,Collection,ListicleNone) Also on HuffPost: CollectionContent(5628f6dae4b0443bb56 ...
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Huffington Post article
Rick James haunt for sale in Hollywood Hills
LATimes - about 2 years
A Hollywood Hills home with ties to late musician Rick James and actress Amy Yasbeck, among others, is for sale in Hollywood Hills at $5.995 million.
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LATimes article
I'm Rick James: 15 Hours Of The Funk Supernova's Best Songs
NPR - about 2 years
Hear a mix of songs made by Motown's most successful post-Detroit star — an authentic live wire and an ultrasavvy professional who's misremembered and underappreciated. » E-Mail This
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NPR article
Russell Taylor, MTV's Artist to Watch
Huffington Post - about 3 years
I am the child of many eras. I came into the United States in the early 1970s and lived in what is now known as Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I have many memories, but I specifically remember the blackout in NYC. The music I can recall outside of my parents' traditional Haitian music was disco, Donna Summers, The Village People and Queen. Then came the 1980s: the graffiti, the birth of rap music, The Sugarhill Gang, Force MD's, Lisa Lisa and The Cult-Jams as well as my favorite, Michael Jackson. Then the 1990s followed with Prince, Sheena Esteen, Rick James, Teena Marie and Digital Underground. In the 2000s came the birth of gangster rap, but the balance for me was the political rappers like KRS -1, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy and Chuck D. The point I'm making is that music though out my life evolved, changed and impacted the times of each movement that went on politically. Whatever was taking place economically during each time period usually affected the social resp ...
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Huffington Post article
Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson Saluted at First Grammy Museum Gala, Architects of Sound: Motown
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Did you know all the joy you'd be bringing? Did you know you'd be the songs The whole world is singing? Did you know when you dreamed your dream That you would make so many other dreams come true? Did you know, way back when, first we met, You and I would be as close as true friends can get? Though the road has been rough at times We made it through, And I'd live it all again Just to be with you; And I'm hoping that right now you know My friend, my wonderful friend, I love you so -- Smokey Robinson Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson: living legends. Smokey Robinson sang for us Monday night, and specifically to his best friend, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. Let me tell you: the terms "singer," "businessman" and "record label" may clue you in a bit, but this was more. Much more. These men got the whole world dancing, swaying, singing along (and they still do). Mr. Robinson's angelic vibrato may sing words, but in attempts to define it, it defies them! And words c ...
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Huffington Post article
Video: Backlash grows against Sephora's racy lipstick names
CBS News - over 3 years
Cosmetic brand, Sephora, is under fire by consumers for marketing lipstick with racy names such as "backstage bambi" and "celebutard." The backlash grew loud enough for Sephora to publicly apologize and say its pulling those names, but some of their stores still had the controversial lipsticks on their shelves. Nick Janes of KOVR-TV reports.
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CBS News article
Pharrell & Hans Zimmer Will Write The 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Score
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer will write the score for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," this according to an interview the 40-year-old producer-singer-rapper gave to Billboard. "I’m going back in with T.I. Beyonce. Jennifer Hudson. Nelly has this really big record named 'Rick James.' That’s my jam. Hans Zimmer and I are scoring “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Williams revealed when asked about his upcoming schedule. This isn't the first time Zimmer and Williams have made music together. The pair also collaborated together on "Despicable Me" and this year's "Man Of Steel." Williams, for his part, is near giddy to work with Zimmer again. He posted a photo of the two of them on his Facebook page last week. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by Pha ...
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Huffington Post article
Jay Z Rode The Subway To A Concert With Coldplay's Chris Martin And Timbaland
Business Insider - over 3 years
Jay Z doesn't need to show up to his concerts in style. On Saturday, HOV along with Coldplay's Chris Martin and rapper Timbaland took the London tube to the O2 Arena surprising many unsuspecting fans along the way. A lot of people shared photos of the trio on social media.  Here are a few shots of the crew. Twitter user @NFox_5 said the crew were spotted at the Waterloo station. Here's another shot: Jigga, Timberland and Chris Martin getting the tube to Jay-Z's show like its naaaarrrfing... pic.twitter.com/dJtHsKUVoI — Rick James (@RICK_the_CHIP) October 12, 2013 And here they are on the train: Do you think Jigga wants one of our Oyster card holders?!! @Maverick_AC @jo1young @jasmineskee pic.twitter.com/4iINYGi8hK — Kirsty Bailey ♥ (@Kirsty_Bailey) October 12, 2013 Jay Z's no stranger to taking public transportation to one of his gigs. Just last year, he rode the New York City subway to attend his own concert in Brooklyn. SEE ALSO: Katy Perry turns 'SNL' ...
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Business Insider article
Nelly Ft. T.I. “Rick James”
All Hip Hop - over 3 years
Filed under: MOBILE, MUSIC Tagged: Nelly, T.I.
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All Hip Hop article
Deadmau5 Trolls Flo Rida Over His 'Beamz By Flo' Laser Machine (TWITTER)
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Deadmau5 poked some fun at rapper Flo Rida yesterday in a string of tweets after watching a two-minute commercial the rapper did for Beamz, a product enabling you to create your own music using laser light technology. The product's official website contains the commercial which describes the product as "the hottest music technology to hit the market." The ad opens with Flo Rida asking "have you ever dreamed of being a star?" before more information is shown with a DJ moving his hands through different laser lights. "Who wants to try my Beamz?" Flo Rida asks as different people try the technology which works with different platforms. "So whether your fantasy is to be a rock hero, a DJ thrilling the crowd or you just want to fulfill your dreams of playing the music you love, you have to try my Beamz for yourself," Flo Rida says as the "try before you buy offer" which includes the product, an accompanying app "and over 20 chart-topping cover songs." The list includes AC/DC, Pink ...
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Huffington Post article
It Isn't Just About Chappelle
Huffington Post - over 3 years
This isn't just about Chappelle. It was bordering on an argument now. I felt my muscles getting tight as I tried to keep myself from yelling out in frustration. We were stomping across the parking lot to our cars, much earlier than expected after Dave Chappelle decided to leave the stage at the Comcast theater. I went with my friend and a couple but the conversation we were having was as though we had left two different theaters. Was I crazy? Was I the only one who had seen the way the night escalated? My friend and I were one of the few Black people at the Chappelle show in Hartford and it was quickly becoming clear to me, that was an important fact. The couple that attended with us, Ray and Hannah, were White. "He's a comedian, what did he expect?" Ray asked, over emphasizing his words the way he did when he was trying not to slur. "Respect." I damn near snarled... I pointed out that there was a larger racial context, that a crowd of majority White patrons yelling at a single ...
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Huffington Post article
Ross Luippold: Dave Chappelle Almost Definitely Didn't Have A 'Meltdown'
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Chappelle's touring now, trying to do his usual, brilliant stuff, and the crowds are screaming, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" Idiots. — Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 30, 2013 Audiences must learn how to respect Dave Chappelle, or we might lose him for good. Last night in Hartford, Chappelle performed the fourth show of the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, one of the biggest outdoor comedy tours ever staged. Nearly as soon as the show was over, word spread across the Internet that Chappelle had, well, pulled a Chappelle. Accounts of the performance vary, but the consensus seems to be that he walked offstage in a huff after about half an hour, having performed very little material. The reasons he did this exist solely within the brain of Dave Chappelle. Of course, that didn't stop folks from assuming that Chappelle suffered some sort of nervous breakdown onstage. The word "meltdown" was tossed around, despite the fact that by all accounts, he upset the ...
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Huffington Post article
Jon Hotchkiss: Why Do Revelations Of Extra Marital Sex Make You Untrustworthy Everywhere?
Huffington Post - over 3 years
When it comes to allegations and revelations of sexual activity by successful, famous or rich men outside their matrimonial bonds, the media can't be categorized as either liberal or conservative in its coverage. Rather, when it comes to sex, dirty talk, selfies, sex tapes, sexting, naked photos, prostitutes, sexually charged pseudonyms -- Carlos Danger -- dark socks, tapping your foot underneath a public bathroom stall and hiking the Appalachian trail, there's only one word to describe the media: puritanical. Oh. And voyeurs. OK. Two words. So the question is: Why? Why when an adult man has sex with an adult female who is not his wife or girlfriend does that suddenly make him unfit for public service, the object of ridicule and someone to be relentlessly shamed by the American media? It starts with religion. In an effort to guarantee stability in society, secure the foundation and longevity of the American family and to control the behavior of men and women, re ...
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Huffington Post article
Houston tries prostitute rehab instead of jail
Fox News - almost 4 years
 Tricia Chambers began her life heavily dependent on heroin and methadone. From there, she was peddled into child pornography, and by 9 she had a full-fledged career in prostitution, alongside her mother. Now 42, Chambers is getting what she believes to be her first real chance — in a downtown Houston cellblock. There, in stark contrast to Chambers and the other orange-clad inmates, is Kathryn Griffin Grinan — a former prostitute who now dons a business suit and heels as she transforms her nonprofit, We've Been There Done That, into a taxpayer-funded program that is teaming up with law enforcement and the court system to reform these women. "You can be healed from this. You just got to be ready and want to," Griffin said, recalling how she went from being a college student to the lowest of street walkers. "We just prostitutes ... nobody cares about us. Well, because I was there and I felt that same way and I broke it, I knew that I could share it and break it in others." Th ...
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Fox News article
Fire: Reverend Kanye West
The Huffington Post - almost 4 years
The mainstream rap music game may once again be returning to the church of black empowerment via its newly self-ordained minister, Reverend Kanye West. After years of rap music struggling in the muck and mire of misogyny and money, one of the greatest rappers ever has had it up to here with the 'New Slavery' of commercialism, materialism and hedonism. I cannot think of a voice more prepared to enact a radical sea change in black music than one of the main perpetrators of the aforementioned materialism and misogyny. Hallelujah. A few weeks ago Kanye performed two new songs, "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves" on Saturday Night Live. One day prior to the performance, he simultaneously projected the video for "New Slaves" onto the facades of 66 buildings in six different countries. The titles and lyrics of these songs have had the Internet buzzing for weeks, with hopes that he will help return black music listeners to their musical revolutionary roots. For too long, our ears ha ...
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The Huffington Post article
G. Roger Denson: Deborah Kass at the Andy Warhol Museum: Seeing Through the Mirror of Her Times
Huffington Post - over 4 years
Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After is a major mid-career retrospective of paintings, photographs and sculpture by New York artist Deborah Kass at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. through January 13, 2013. The exhibition features approximately 75 works and showcases Kass' achievements over the course of her three-decade career. Read more at warhol.org: http://www.warhol.org/webcalendar/event.aspx?id=7074 It has been my good fortune to experience the Deborah Kass Effect. I mean that at Kass's present retrospective, Before and Happily Ever After, at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, I felt myself liberated from the constraints of time, space and identity. For those who haven't experienced the Deborah Kass effect, suffice that I compare it to the Virginia Woolf Effect--the phasing in and out of time streams and locales, masculine and feminine identities. The difference is that, the Kass Effect isn't achieved in reading a story, but in viewin ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Rick James
    FIFTIES
  • 2004
    Age 56
    On the morning of August 6, 2004, James' caretaker found him dead in James' Los Angeles home at the Oakwood Toluca Hills apartment complex, just outside Burbank.
    More Details Hide Details He had died from pulmonary failure and cardiac failure, associated with his various health conditions of diabetes, and a stroke, pacemaker, and heart attack. His autopsy found alprazolam, diazepam, bupropion, citalopram, hydrocodone, digoxin, chlorpheniramine, methamphetamine, and cocaine in his blood. However, the coroner stated that "none of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life-threatening in and of themselves". James was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. His two-ton, jet black headstone is engraved with the following lyrics to an unreleased song: "I've had it all, I've done it all, I've seen it all. It's all about love – God is love." James' entire Motown Records back catalogue was released in 2014 on iTunes for the very first time in digitally remastered form. This marks the first time many of his albums have been widely available since their initial release. Physical copies of James' albums, namely Fire It Up, Garden of Love and The Flag, have become rare and highly sought after by fans.
    Final music projects He was also supporting Teena Marie's tour of her album La Doña and toured with her in May 2004, playing with her at the KBLX Stone Soul Picnic, Pioneer Amphitheatre, Hayward, California.
    More Details Hide Details
    In early 2004, James participated in a comedy sketch on Chappelle's Show, in a segment called "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories".
    More Details Hide Details James and Murphy recounted humorous stories of their experiences together during the early 1980s. During the sketch, James' character, played by Dave Chappelle, utters the now famous catchphrase, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" The sketches were punctuated by James, as himself, explaining his past behavior with the phrase, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug!" Autobiography At the time of his death, James was working on an autobiography, The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak, as well as a new album. The book was finally published toward the end of 2007 by Colossus Books and features a picture of his tombstone. David Ritz, who had been employed by James to work on the book with him, later said that this version did not truly reflect how the musician wanted it published. In 2014, Ritz published his own, re-edited version, Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James.
    Their professional partnership lasted into 2004, when Marie released her comeback album, La Dona, which included her and James' duet "I Got You".
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    James received new notoriety in 2004, when he appeared (as himself) in an episode of Chappelle's Show, in a Charlie Murphy "True Hollywood Stories" segment that satirized James' past wild lifestyle.
    More Details Hide Details James died later that year from heart failure, at age 56.
  • FORTIES
  • 1998
    Age 50
    In 1998, James was accused of sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman, though charges were later dropped.
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    Murphy would later recall on Chappelle's Show his sometimes strained relationship with James, which helped to revive James' name in the public eye after years of seclusion, following his mild stroke in 1998.
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  • 1996
    Age 48
    He was released from prison in 1996.
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  • 1993
    Age 45
    In 1993, while out on bail for that earlier incident, James, under the influence of cocaine, assaulted music executive Mary Sauger at the St. James Club and Hotel in West Hollywood.
    More Details Hide Details Sauger claims she met James and Hijazi for a business meeting, but said the two then kidnapped and beat her over a 20-hour period. He was found guilty of both offenses but was cleared of a torture charge in the crack pipe incident that could have put him in prison for the rest of his life. He served two years in Folsom Prison and lost a civil suit to Sauger, who was awarded US$2 million.
    In 1993, he and future wife Tanya Hijazi were accused of holding 24-year-old Frances Alley hostage for up to six days although accounts vary on how long she was actually held, tying her up, forcing her to perform sexual acts, and burning her legs and abdomen with the hot end of a crack cocaine pipe, during a week-long cocaine binge.
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    In 1993, the couple welcomed the arrival of their only child and James' youngest, Tazman. Following their releases from prison for assaulting Mary Sauger and Frances Alley, the couple married in 1996 and divorced in 2002.
    More Details Hide Details James was very close with Teena Marie, whom he met and began collaborating with in 1979. While James had denied that the two were romantically involved, Teena Marie stated they were romantically involved and engaged "for two weeks".
  • 1991
    Age 43
    After being credited as writer of the song, James became the 1991 recipient of a Best R&B Song Grammy for composing the song.
    More Details Hide Details Due to this success, James was often called the "king of punk funk", for his mix of funk, soul and underground-inspired rock music. In addition to his own success, James emerged as a successful songwriter and producer for other artists, such as Teena Marie, The Mary Jane Girls, The Temptations, Eddie Murphy and Smokey Robinson. An addiction to drugs hampered his career by the late 1980s. In the 1990s, his legal troubles, which included kidnapping and torturing two women while under the influence of crack, led him to serve a three-year sentence at California's Folsom State Prison. James was released on parole in 1996 and resumed his musical career releasing the album, Urban Rapsody, in 1997. A mild stroke suffered during a concert in early 1998 interrupted his career for a brief time.
  • 1990
    Age 42
    James and his co-writer on "Super Freak", Alonzo Miller, successfully sued Hammer for shared songwriting credit and all three consequently received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.
    More Details Hide Details In 1997, James released Urban Rapsody, his first album since his release from prison on assault charges, and he toured to promote the album. That same year, he discussed his life and career in interviews for the VH1 musical documentary series, Behind the Music, which aired in early 1998. James' musical career slowed again after he suffered a minor stroke during a concert. In 1999, James accepted an offer by Eddie Murphy himself to appear in his film, Life. James had three children. With Syville Morgan, a former singer and songwriter, he had daughter Ty and son Rick, Jr. In 1989, James met 17-year-old partygoer Tanya Hijazi. The two began a romance in 1990.
    By 1990, he had lost his deal with Warner Bros. and James began struggling with personal and legal troubles.
    More Details Hide Details That year MC Hammer released his hit signature song, "U Can't Touch This", which sampled the prominent opening riff from "Super Freak".
  • 1989
    Age 41
    In 1989, James' eleventh album, Kickin', was released only in the UK.
    More Details Hide Details
  • THIRTIES
  • 1986
    Age 38
    After the release of his ninth solo album, The Flag, in 1986, James signed with Warner Bros.
    More Details Hide Details Records, which released the album Wonderful in 1988, featuring the hit, "Loosey's Rap". James' controversial and provocative image became troublesome sometimes. During his heyday, James had presented his songs to the then-fledging music video channel, MTV, only to be turned down because James' music didn't fit the network's rock playlist. James accused the network of racism. When MTV and BET both avoided playing the video for "Loosey's Rap" because of its graphic sexual content, James considered the networks hypocritical in light of them still playing provocative videos by Madonna and Cher.
  • 1985
    Age 37
    In 1985, James produced another hit for entertainer Eddie Murphy with the song "Party All The Time".
    More Details Hide Details That same year he appeared on an episode of The A-Team with Isaac Hayes.
  • 1983
    Age 35
    James' relationship with Robinson began shortly after James signed with Motown and, in 1983, the duo recorded the hit "Ebony Eyes."
    More Details Hide Details James also idolized former Temptations lead singer David Ruffin and Ruffin's self-proclaimed uncle, bass vocalist Melvin Franklin, and grabbed at the chance to produce the hit "Standing on the Top" for them in 1982. Before that, the then-current lineup of the group recorded background vocals on two James-associated projects – James' Street Songs (singing "Ghetto Life" and "Super Freak") and Teena Marie's It Must Be Magic (singing on the title track). In "Super Freak," "It Must Be Magic," and "Standing On The Top", James famously shouted out, "Temptations SING!" James' lifelong drug abuse began in his teens, first with marijuana and heroin. James began using cocaine in the late 1960s. His cocaine use became an addiction by the 1980s, and he began freebasing by the end of the decade. James recalled smoking crack cocaine in his Beverly Hills mansion and often had aluminum foil on the windows to escape onlookers.
    In 1983, James recorded the hit duet, "Ebony Eyes", with singer Smokey Robinson.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1982
    Age 34
    In 1982, James produced the Temptations' Top Ten R&B hit, "Standing On The Top".
    More Details Hide Details
    Following up that success, James released two more gold albums, 1982's Throwin' Down and 1983's Cold Blooded.
    More Details Hide Details During this period, envious of Prince's success as producer of other acts including The Time and Vanity 6, James launched the acts Process and the Doo-Rags, and the Mary Jane Girls, featuring his former background singer Joanne "JoJo" McDuffie as the lead vocalist and background performer, finding success with the latter group, due to the hits, "All Night Long", "Candy Man", and "In My House".
  • 1981
    Age 33
    In 1981, James recorded his best-selling album to date, Street Songs, which like his previous four albums, was a concept album.
    More Details Hide Details Street Songs featured a fusion mix of different genres, including rock and new wave, as well as James' brand of crossover funk, enabling James' own style of "punk funk". The album featured hit singles such as "Ghetto Life", the Teena Marie duet "Fire and Desire", "Give It to Me Baby", and his biggest crossover hit to date, "Super Freak", which peaked at number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100, and sold over a million copies. Street Songs peaked at number one R&B and number three pop, and sold over three million copies alone in the United States.
  • 1980
    Age 32
    Following the end of the tour in 1980, James released the ballads-heavy Garden of Love, which became his fourth gold record.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1979
    Age 31
    In early 1979, James' second album, Bustin' Out of L Seven, followed the previous album's success, eventually selling a million copies.
    More Details Hide Details A third album, Fire It Up, was released in late 1979 going gold. Around that same period, James launched his first headlining tour, the Fire It Up Tour, and agreed to invite the then-upcoming artist, Prince, as well as singer Teena Marie, as his opening act. James had produced Marie's successful Motown debut album, Wild and Peaceful and was featured on the hit duet, "I'm a Sucker (For Your Love)". James was credited with naming Marie, "Lady Tee", on the song, a nickname that stuck with Marie for the rest of her career. The Fire It Up tour led to James developing a bitter rivalry with Prince, after he accused the musician for ripping off his act.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1978
    Age 30
    In April 1978, James released his debut solo album, Come Get It!, which included the Stone City Band.
    More Details Hide Details The album launched the top 20 hit, "You and I", which became his first number-one R&B hit. The album also included the hit single, "Mary Jane". It eventually sold two million copies, launching James' musical career to stardom, and helping out Motown Records at a time when label fortunes had dwindled.
  • 1977
    Age 29
    In 1977, James and the Stone City Band signed a contract with Motown's Gordy Records imprint, where they began recording their first album in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details
    In 1977, he signed with the Gordy Records imprint of Motown as a recording artist, releasing his debut, Come Get It!, in April 1978.
    More Details Hide Details The album sold over two million copies and launched his career into the mainstream as a funk and soul artist. His most popular album, 1981's Street Songs, launched him into superstardom thanks to the hit singles, "Give It to Me Baby" and "Super Freak", the latter song becoming his signature song for the rest of his life, and the basis of MC Hammer's biggest hit, "U Can't Touch This"; James eventually sued for back royalties.
  • 1976
    Age 28
    In 1976, James returned to Buffalo, New York, and formed the Stone City Band and recorded the song "Get Up and Dance!", which was his second single to be released.
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  • 1973
    Age 25
    In 1973, James signed with A&M Records, where his first single under the name Rick James, "My Mama", was released, becoming a club hit in Europe.
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  • 1969
    Age 21
    Returning to California from Toronto in 1969, James got involved with hair stylist Jay Sebring, who agreed to invest in James' music.
    More Details Hide Details
  • TEENAGE
  • 1968
    Age 20
    In late 1968, James formed the rock band Salt and Pepper.
    More Details Hide Details James and S&P member Ed Roth later were included in Bruce Palmer's solo album The Cycle is Complete. The duo also recorded as part of the group Heaven and Earth in Toronto. Heaven and Earth eventually changed their name to Great White Cane and recorded an album for Los Angeles label, Lion Records, in 1972, though it was later shelved. James formed another band, Hot Lips, afterwards.
    James returned to Motown as a songwriter in 1968, under the assumed name "Rickie Matthews", and worked with acts such as The Miracles, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, and The Spinners.
    More Details Hide Details According to James, he briefly got involved in pimp activity during this time, but stopped because he felt he wasn't qualified for it due to the harsh activity and the abuse of women there.
  • 1965
    Age 17
    In 1965, he fled for Toronto, where he made friendships with then-local musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
    More Details Hide Details To avoid being caught by military authorities, James went under the assumed name, "Ricky James Matthews". That same year, James formed the Mynah Birds, a band that produced a fusion of soul, folk and rock music. In 1965, the band briefly recorded for the Canadian division of Columbia Records, releasing the single, "Mynah Bird Hop"/"Mynah Bird Song". At one point, Nick St. Nicholas of later Steppenwolf fame was a member; eventually bassist Bruce Palmer replaced him by the time "Mynah Bird Hop" was recorded. James and Palmer would recruit guitarists Tom Morgan and Xavier Taylor and drummer Rick Mason to form a new Mynah Birds lineup, and soon traveled to Detroit to record with Motown. Before the group began recording their first songs for the label, Morgan left, unhappy about the label's attitude towards the musicians. Neil Young eventually took his place. It was while in Detroit that James met his musical heroes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After meeting Wonder and telling him his name, Wonder felt the name "Ricky James Matthews" was "too long", and instead told James to shorten it to "Ricky James".
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1948
    Age 0
    James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. was born on February 1, 1948, in Buffalo, New York, to Mabel (née Sims) and James Ambrose Johnson, Sr. He was one of eight children.
    More Details Hide Details James' father, an autoworker, left the family when James was ten. His mother was a dancer for Katherine Dunham, and later ran errands for a Mafia-connected mob, just to feed her family. James' mother would take him on her collecting route, and it was in bars where she worked that James got to see performers such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Etta James perform. James claimed later in the autobiography, Glow, that he lost his virginity at "age 9 or 10" to a 14-year-old local girl, claiming his "kinky nature came in early". James eventually attended Orchard Park High School and Bennett High School prior to dropping out. James was introduced to drugs at an early age and, as a young teen, was busted for burglary. Due to his stints in jail for theft, James entered the United States Navy at 14 or 15, lying about his age, to avoid the draft. During that time, he also became a drummer for local jazz groups in New York City. Due to him missing his twice-monthly Reserve sessions at the USS Enterprise, he found himself ordered to Vietnam.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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