Category: rick james

Rick James during an in-store sales promotio…

Rick James during an in-store sales promotion at Freeway Record Store in Los Angeles for the album “Bustin’ Out of L Seven” (1979).

Photos by Bobby Holland

On this day in music history: September 3, 198…

On this day in music history: September 3, 1983 – “Cold Blooded” by Rick James hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on September 24, 1983. Written and produced by Rick James, it is the third R&B chart topper for the “King Of Punk Funk”. The innovative, minimalist funk track (featuring James on all instruments and vocals) is inspired by James’ then girlfriend, actress Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”). Blair is actually in the studio with James when he begins writing it. As she watches him work, she expresses to him a desire to learn how to play and write music. Putting his hands on a synthesizer, he begins improvising, coming up with the songs main riff right on the spot. “Cold Blooded” is distinctively different from his earlier material which was mainly written on either guitar or bass. The track features mainly synthesizers and a Roland TR-808 drum machine (inspired in part by friend Marvin Gaye’s recent hit “Sexual Healing”), augmented with electric bass. The first single and title track from his seventh album, it quickly becomes a hit on R&B radio and on the dance floor. “Cold Blooded” is Rick James last major hit for Motown before leaving the company in 1986.

Isaac Hayes, Rick James, Barry White, Glodea…

Isaac Hayes, Rick James, Barry White, Glodean White and Teddy Pendergrass circa 1978.

Photos by Bobby Holland

Remembering R&B/Funk legend Rick James (bo…

Remembering R&B/Funk legend Rick James (born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr in Buffalo, NY) – February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004

On this day in music history: July 22, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: July 22, 1978 – “You And I” by Rick James hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #13 on the Hot 100 on September 23, 1978. Written by Rick James, it is the chart topping single for the singer songwriter and musician from Buffalo, NY. James had previously recorded for the label in 1966 as a member of The Mynah Birds, a band led by James and guitarist Neil Young. The recordings are shelved when Motown finds out he is AWOL from the US Navy at the time. He returns to the label in 1977, signing with subsidiary label Gordy Records after playing his songs for Motown staff producer Jeffrey Bowen. Pairing him with engineer/producer Art Stewart (Marvin Gaye), the duo complete the tracks James had begun recording at a small eight-track recording studio (Crossed-Eyed Bear Studios in Clarence, NY) near his hometown of Buffalo. James writes “You And I” as an ode to his marriage with his then wife. Issued as a single in April of 1978, it is the first release from his debut album “Come Get It!”. It quickly becomes a fixture on R&B radio, and the dance floor before crossing over to the pop chart. The success of “You And I” propels the  "Come Get It!“ album to Platinum status in the US. A previously unreleased extended dance remix of "You And I” is released as a limited numbered 12" single (limited to 2,000 copies), remixed by John Morales (M+M), on Record Store Day in April of 2014.

twixnmix: Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)…

twixnmix:

Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)

In his posthumously published memoir, “Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James,” Rick says he spent time getting to “know” the actress at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Later, he found out that Linda had gotten pregnant by him and obtained an abortion without his knowledge. His 1983 hit song “Cold Blooded” came from that discovery. “It was about how Linda could freeze my blood,” he wrote.

On this day in music history: June 13, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: June 13, 1981 – “Give It To Me Baby” by Rick James hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, topping the Club Play chart for 3 weeks on July 25, 1981, also peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on July 18, 1981. Written and produced by Rick James, it is the second R&B chart topper for the singer, songwriter and musician dubbed the “King Of Punk Funk”. After the critical and relative commercial failure of his fourth album “Garden Of Love” in 1980, Rick James returns home to his native Buffalo, NY to regroup, “determined to do the greatest album” he could produce. “Give It To Me Baby is inspired after a night of heavy partying. James goes home and sits down at the piano, writing it in short order. The track is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA in December of 1980, with James’ lead vocal being completed in only two or three takes. Issued as the first single from James’ landmark album "Street Songs” on February 20, 1981, it is an immediate smash on R&B radio and on the dance floor. Shortly after the single’s release, Motown also issues a commercial 12" single featuring an extended version of “Give It To Me Baby”. The extended 12" mix and its instrumental B-side are both reissued on the 2001 Deluxe Edition of the “Street Songs” album. The bass line is later used on MC Hammer’s “Let’s Get It Started”, and James’ original version is sampled on Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power”.

twixnmix: Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)…

twixnmix:

Rick James and Linda Blair (1982)

In his posthumously published memoir, “Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James,” Rick says he spent time getting to “know” the actress at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Later, he found out that Linda had gotten pregnant by him and obtained an abortion without his knowledge. His 1983 hit song “Cold Blooded” came from that discovery. “It was about how Linda could freeze my blood,” he wrote.

On this day in music history: April 20, 1978 -…

On this day in music history: April 20, 1978 – “Come Get It!”, the debut album by Rick James is released. Produced by Rick James and Art Stewart, it is recorded at Crossed-Eyed Bear Studios in Clarence, NY and The Record Plant in New York City from Mid – Late 1977. The first album by James comes some twelve years after first recording for Motown as a member of The Mynah Birds, a band featuring James and future Buffalo Springfield members Neil Young and Bruce Palmer. In the years in between, travel around the world, before moving to California and start a series of bands that lasts for a brief period. At one point, he reconnects with Motown briefly as a staff writer for the label before parting ways again. Finally, he signs with Motown in 1977 after when staff producer Jeffrey Bowen hears a demo of several songs that Rick has written, playing them for label executive Suzanne DePasse. Shortly after this, he is signed to the label and is paired with co-producer and engineer Art Stewart (Marvin Gaye). James plays most of the instruments on the album himself before assembling The Stone City Band in 1979. It spins off two singles including “You And I” (#1 R&B, #13 Pop) and “Mary Jane” (#3 R&B, #41 Pop). “Come Get It!” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

twixnmix: Prince as the opening act for Rick J…

twixnmix:

Prince as the opening act for Rick James’ Fire It Up Tour, 1980.

Rick recounts the first time he saw Prince In his autobiography The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak : “The first time I saw Prince and his band I felt sorry for him. Here’s this little dude wearing hi-heels, playing this New Wave Rock & Roll, not moving or anything on stage, just standing there wearing this trench coat. Then at the end of his set he’d take off his trench coat and he’d be wearing little girl’s bloomers. I just died. The guys in the audience just booed the poor thing to death.”

Other accounts suggest Prince made a point in upstaging James. Either way, tensions were running high throughout the tour. Backstage shenanigans of stealing instruments, physical confrontation and general intolerance were served cold by each artist. Long after parting ways, Prince and James never resolved their resentment and remained touchy when comparisons were drawn between them.

However when Rick James died in 2004 Prince did show his respect by playing an acoustic piano medley of Rick James songs during his show.