Rick James is dead. You gotta hand it to the man who lived so hard he’d had a stroke AND a hip replacement AND done a stretch in prison (for domestic abuse, or drugs, or tax, or maybe all of the above) by the time he died of heart failure at the tender age of 56. As a younger, healthier man, he went AWOL from military service and escaped to Canada because the army was cramping his musical career. Now that’s sacrifice in the service of funk.
He was an eighties style icon, with the kind of ringlets any 18th century courtier would have died for. He was an originator of the “wet look”. Without regal Rick, there could be no Prince. He was also the “mastermind” behind short-lived girl group the Mary Jane Girls. His drug referencing was not always so subtle, however. Apparently upon receiving some angular glassy music award or other, he cracked a joke to the audience about snorting a line of coke off it. Now that’s class!!
The cruelest irony of his career was that he received his only Grammy not for 1981’s genre-defining all-time party jam, Superfreak, but for “co-writing” MC Hammer’s 1990 rip-off, U Can’t Touch This. That’s like giving Stevie Wonder an award for something Will Smith threw up. That’s why award ceremonies are for retards.