james of rick disco era rick getting plenty of club play, Rick was never disco — funk and soul were his forte." />
Rick James? Aw, man! The guy was a super freak. He invented punk-funk. What a dude! He was badass. Yet history kinda let this pioneer of brittle, bruising good-time groove slip from its memory. Look here, he even had a huge influence over Prince — so Rick James said, anyway. Because while his life may have been troublesome, even horribly brutal at times, musically he was great, OK? And yes, he did play that mutha of a b-line personally. His first notable outfit was The Mynah Birds, formed when he moved to Toronto, Canada, in , while a Navy reserve on the run from a posting to Vietnam.
They mixed musical styles, offering bits of rock, soul and even some hippy-dippy folk. Motown remained interested in James — but balked at signing him as an artist while he was being chased by the law — and he wrote songs for their artists Bobby Taylor, David Ruffin and The Spinners. And once he was hot, he was hard to stop. After a mellow, Latin-influenced opening, the tune kicked in with horns as tight as gritted teeth and backing vocals that somewhat resembled Parlet, the original P-Funk female vocalists.
The brittle, pinging sound caught a mood and went Top 20 in the US. They still sound totally crisp. Rick James was not a one-trick pony. Like Prince, who caught a break when Rick had him as tour support at the start of the 80s, he played an array of instruments, though Rick was usually pictured with a bass draped over his slim frame.
But the name of the latter act suggested more than the title of one of his earlier singles. Mary Jane is a synonym for marijuana.
No biggie: one or two musicians have enjoyed the occasional spliff without it affecting their careers. But drugs were a weakness for Rick James. He started using during his teens, took heroin, and, when crack arrived, he found it moreish. Oh yes, he really was badass. When James died of heart failure, on 6 August , he was found with nine different drugs in his system. Not his best idea: he was a diabetic, had a pacemaker and had previously survived a minor stroke and a heart attack.
But James never said die until he actually did. Let it glow, baby. The punk-funker reckoned it was too cheesy to put out. He loved to parrrrtaaay. One night in , Rick came home feeling horny but was too drunk to get it on with his partner. Despite rising to fame at the peak of the disco era and getting plenty of club play, Rick was never disco — funk and soul were his forte.
He was massive, and it was all down to the phonk. As the hot new star in the Motown firmament, Rick was earmarked to produce Diana Ross in the late 70s. Later, Rick forgot he had it in his pocket and dived into a pool. Rick read the interview, got in touch, and set about proving it. An astounding bass player himself, Rick had hoped to get the gig. Rick loathed Prince. He reckoned The Purple One stole his act after supporting the punk-funker on his first major tour. Excellent column on the great Rick James!
The truth is, however, that neither Rick nor Alonza ever sued, and therefore, they never won. But Rick kept the rumor of the suit alive to increase publicity for the song. A smart move. I think we all know beside the great solo career of Rick James he produced and created careers for various artists. Prince got mass exposure Rick had to use less popular venues. MTV loved Prince because he played the gay card and some MTV programmers allegedly were gay and were pushing the gay agenda. Rick James had a great career, sold out arenas for multiple days and had hot selling hits.
If only MTV had of played his music he would have been even more popular. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Search uDiscover Music. Features Latest News. Share Tweet. Format: UK English. Peter Benjaminson February 1, at pm. Dirk Birkowitz May 31, at pm. The difference between Rick James and Prince? Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.
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