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Thread started 08/09/04 8:49am

Harlepolis

One of Rick James Last Interviews

RICK JAMES’ LAST EUR INTERVIEW: Late funk legend talked about ASCAP award, Prince, hip hop, Chappelle, and his legacy.


Rick James (Feb. 1, 1948 - Aug. 6, 2004)
(Aug. 9, 2004) *An autopsy Saturday failed to reveal the exact cause of death for Rick James.
However, his three children – daughter Ty, and sons Rick Jr. and Tazman – said Friday through a spokesman that they believe his heart just simply gave out.

James, 56, died in his sleep Friday morning at his home near Universal City, California.

He gave the world such funk staples as “Super Freak,” “Give It To Me Baby” and “Mary Jane,” and was just as innovative behind the scenes penning songs for Teena Marie, the Mary Jane Girls, the Temptations, and Smokey Robinson.

It was his writing talent that caught the attention of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), and ironically, allowed him the chance to experience a lifetime achievement award before it was too late.

Last June, James accepted the honor at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in Beverly Hills, where he capped his acceptance speech with the infamous phrase from the Dave Chappelle Show, “I’m Rick James bitch!” to thunderous applause from the crowd. At the ceremony, EUR’s Lee Bailey spoke to him for what would become the last time.

“This is probably the greatest accolade I’ve ever won,” James said. “This is icing on the cake. It’s not only from my peers, but these are the people who really know and appreciate the song, whether it’s for the Mary Jane Girls, Temptations, myself, or Smokey Robinson, they know.”

At the time of his death, James (born James Ambrose Johnson Jr.) was preparing to release a double-album of almost 30 songs to coincide with his 25th anniversary as a successful artist. The project, which he said would come through his own Ma Records label, was also part of the singer’s newfound peace after years of battling drug and alcohol addiction. He credits his 1998 stroke as God’s way of slowing him down.

“When that stroke happened to me in Denver, I wasn’t doing drugs,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything. I might’ve had half a glass of champagne, but I wasn’t doing anything because I was on parole; I was being [drug] tested, too. So when it happened, it was so bizarre. I broke two blood vessels on the back of my neck.

“I was laid up in the hospital for six and a half months, I went to a three- or four- month rehab, then I was in the bed for a year and a half. I just was depressed. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to perform again. But God sent this angel, and she came and did some bodywork on me. I couldn’t walk backwards, I couldn’t walk sideways, I couldn’t write my name, and next thing I know, I was running across my room. I believe He just sat me down for a minute to pay attention.”

The upcoming double-album was also supposed to promote the return of “real music,” which James felt was lost on today’s young artists. James said:

“Me and Quincy [Jones] had this discussion, and it’s a really sad thing, in actuality - music is dead. There will be no other Earth Wind and Fires, there’ll be no more Billie Holidays, Sly and the Family Stones or Parliament Funkadelics. People get together now and they don’t know anything about music. And I look at the artform of rap, the way they spit it, and some of them are brilliant, and they’re poets, but some of it is just verbal diarrhea.”

James cited recent shows with the Ohio Players and Parliament Funkadelic, and even the new “Musicology” material from his longtime rival Prince as examples of funk’s staying-power despite today’s unhealthy R&B diet. “Never in my dearest life did I think I would ever like Prince,” James said, before cracking up. “But I’m just so grateful for all the brothers out there in funk because it’s a resurgence, a revolution, a reincarnation – it’s a total blooming of something that people thought had died.”

And speaking of Prince, James was still a little cheeky about the artist formerly known as The Artist, who reportedly sparked the rivalry when he kept upstaging the braided singer while opening for him on tour.

“I don’t have any grudges,” James said of the Purple One. “He’s a great musician. I’m just not into songs like, ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ or me and my sister used to do this all night. But no, he’s changed. He doesn’t have a sign anymore. I guess there’s a little bit of jealousy still there, but I know I’m better looking - and I’m taller.”

Plans are still underway for James’ life to be told on the big screen. Comedian Dave Chappelle, whose skits of the singer on his Comedy Central series “The Chappelle Show” have contributed to James’ recent popularity surge, will reportedly play the funkateer in a motion picture drama about “basically sex, drugs, funk and roll,” Rick said.

As for Chappelle’s Rick James parodies, he insisted that the skits, which feature interview clips of him providing commentary, were a collaborative effort. He said:

“People always say, ‘What do you think about David clowning you?’ I say, clowning me? We created that! I thought they were funny as hell because it made people laugh. I laughed.”

A Rick James book was also said to be in the works at the time of his death – a full account of his childhood in Buffalo, New York; his Catholic school upbringing; the talent show at age 15 that turned him onto performing; his descent into cocaine; the infamous crack pipe assault, the penitentiary; his stroke; and his struggle to put his life back on track.

“I feel God has got me here for a reason,” he said. “I give myself another year, and then I’m gonna retire from the music business and do something else I have in mind that’s more spiritual. God has saved me from so much, - overdoses and [the wrong] people - now He’s lining me up with just the right people. I gotta do what I gotta do, then I gotta do His will.

“I look around and we’re all getting older, and it just brings a tear to my eye, because you know what? We’re still here, you know? Ain’t nobody saying how long this is gonna last. But right now, today, I’m enjoying it. This is all I ask, you know. Tomorrow’s not promised.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: According to the late singer's website, RickJames.com, a public memorial service and viewing will be held from 5-8 PM on Wednesday, August 11, 2004, at Forest Lawn Mortuary, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Fans and friends are invited to pay their final respects to Rick James.

Please note that no cameras/cell phone cameras/video cameras/or any type of recording device will be allowed at this ceremony. Out of respect to the family, please leave these items at home.

Funeral Service: The funeral for Rick James will be private and is not open to the public.
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Reply #1 posted 08/09/04 8:54am

apple2

Boy was he jealous of Prince he was taller but thats it sorry i know he is dead but he was jealous of Prince. prince yes sad
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Reply #2 posted 08/09/04 9:18am

LightOfArt

apple2 said:

Boy was he jealous of Prince he was taller but thats it sorry i know he is dead but he was jealous of Prince. prince yes sad


I-D-I-S-A-G-R-E-E
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Reply #3 posted 08/09/04 9:22am

gman1966

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I attended the Aug 6th Houston show and Prince said "Rest in Peace, Rick James" twice and
then begin to pay the "Give it to me Baby" riff on guitar for several minutes. A very nice
tribute to Rick.
"Say it Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud!!!" - Brother James Brown

"Make my funk the P-FUNK...I want my funk uncut...." Brother George Clinton
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Reply #4 posted 08/09/04 6:33pm

vainandy

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Harlepolis said

James cited recent shows with the Ohio Players and Parliament Funkadelic, and even the new “Musicology” material from his longtime rival Prince as examples of funk’s staying-power despite today’s unhealthy R&B diet. “Never in my dearest life did I think I would ever like Prince,” James said, before cracking up. “But I’m just so grateful for all the brothers out there in funk because it’s a resurgence, a revolution, a reincarnation – it’s a total blooming of something that people thought had died.”

And speaking of Prince, James was still a little cheeky about the artist formerly known as The Artist, who reportedly sparked the rivalry when he kept upstaging the braided singer while opening for him on tour.

“I don’t have any grudges,” James said of the Purple One. “He’s a great musician. I’m just not into songs like, ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ or me and my sister used to do this all night. But no, he’s changed. He doesn’t have a sign anymore. I guess there’s a little bit of jealousy still there, but I know I’m better looking - and I’m taller.”



As a true fan of both artists, I love them both almost equally. I can truly say that I have never been more proud of Rick James than these few statements. Believe it or not, it actually IS an apology in Rick's James' own kind of way.

I'm sure Rick is joking at the end about being better looking and taller. Of course, Rick's going to throw a little criticism in there but that's natural. He has felt hurt and betrayed all these years. I'm sure there are reasons for Rick's bitterness. I love Prince to death but let's face it people, he has not always been a saint. He has messed over people in his own band, what makes you think he wouldn't mess over Rick. Rick has his faults too. He had a loud mouth and was very arrogant. I don't know what went down between the two of them, only Rick and Prince know that answer.

In the early days, I truly enjoyed the rivalry between the two of them, it kept them both on their toes and, in my opinion, both artists were at their very best when they were competing against each other. In later years, when the rest of the music world had pretty much gone to hell, I truly wished to see the both of them find peace with each other and eventually come friends.

You can believe it or not but in Rick's own arrogant way.....that was an apology. The old Rick James would never give Prince ANY type of complement whatsoever.

I am truly glad to see that Rick did at least come to peace with Prince before he went to meet his maker. Now I can feel much better about Rick going to a much better place than this earth.
Andy is a four letter word.
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Reply #5 posted 08/09/04 6:46pm

vainandy

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gman1966 said:

I attended the Aug 6th Houston show and Prince said "Rest in Peace, Rick James" twice and
then begin to pay the "Give it to me Baby" riff on guitar for several minutes. A very nice
tribute to Rick.


As I spoke on Rick's behalf earlier, now I would like to speak on Prince's. Rick has been bitter, loud, and outspoken on this rivalry for years. Prince is a more mysterious figure that hardly ever speaks or gives interviews. I have always been curious hear Prince's side of the story but no one ever asked about Rick James when Prince started doing interviews recently. I love Prince to death but I don't think he is the total innocent bystander in this feud. I have never heard Rick rant on about anyone else like he did about Prince. The same thing I said on Rick's behalf, I will say on Prince's, the only two people that really know what went down is Rick and Prince.

After reading about Prince's tribute to Rick in concert the day he died, I couldn't be more proud of Prince than I am right now. I think that was a wonderful gesture and done in a truly classy way. I'm glad to see Prince has also come to peace with Rick and gave him the proper send off he deserved. All hats off to Prince for this wonderful and touching gesture.
Andy is a four letter word.
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Reply #6 posted 08/11/04 9:41am

namepeace

I'm with vainandy on this one. I think Rick was putting an old grudge to rest (that may or may not have been mutual).

I was a Rick James fan long before I was a Prince fan, and I think he was a tremendous talent. It was because his music was so great that made it easier to laugh at the parodies over the years (long before Chappelle). Despite his many problems, we knew Rick was a legend and we loved his work.

twocents
Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #7 posted 08/11/04 9:54am

OdysseyMiles

namepeace said:

I'm with vainandy on this one. I think Rick was putting an old grudge to rest (that may or may not have been mutual).

I was a Rick James fan long before I was a Prince fan, and I think he was a tremendous talent. It was because his music was so great that made it easier to laugh at the parodies over the years (long before Chappelle). Despite his many problems, we knew Rick was a legend and we loved his work.

twocents


Agreed, bro. I feel really proud of both these cats right now.
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Reply #8 posted 08/11/04 10:19am

sunlite

I'm from Buffalo and have heard many Rick James stories growing up there. Dez also talks about their tour with Rick in 1979, in his book.(buy it) Rick once said in an interview that when his late mother met Prince backstage and asked for an autograph, he just ignored her and walked away. On top of that, Prince stole(jerk out) Vanity from Rick at an awards afterparty back in 1981. Basically she came with Rick and left with Prince. Besides giving his band a run their money. All those things added up. Prince being 10 years younger was pushing Rick James from his "Punk Funk" throne. Rick was my first arena rock concert in 1982. Prince 1999 tour was my second. I think Rick set the stage for Prince blow up. He was selling out shows when Prince still trying to get comfortable performing in front of people. He merged funk,rock and ballads just like Prince would eventually perfect by the 1999 release. He had girl groups and off-shoot band projects like Teena Marie,Mary Jane girls,Stone City Band,Val Young and Process and The Doo Rags.He put Buffalo on the map long before "Buffalo wings"! There were many similarities back in their early days. Happy that they both seemed to let go some of their ego and show respect for each other. Always been my two favorite guys!
Release Yourself
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Reply #9 posted 08/11/04 10:20am

sunlite

I'm from Buffalo and have heard many Rick James stories growing up there. Dez also talks about their tour with Rick in 1979, in his book.(buy it) Rick once said in an interview that when his late mother met Prince backstage and asked for an autograph, he just ignored her and walked away. On top of that, Prince stole(jerk out) Vanity from Rick at an awards afterparty back in 1981. Basically she came with Rick and left with Prince. Besides giving his band a run their money. All those things added up. Prince being 10 years younger was pushing Rick James from his "Punk Funk" throne. Rick was my first arena rock concert in 1982. Prince 1999 tour was my second. I think Rick set the stage for Prince blow up. He was selling out shows when Prince still trying to get comfortable performing in front of people. He merged funk,rock and ballads just like Prince would eventually perfect by the 1999 release. He had girl groups and off-shoot band projects like Teena Marie,Mary Jane girls,Stone City Band,Val Young and Process and The Doo Rags.He put Buffalo on the map long before "Buffalo wings"! There were many similarities back in their early days. Happy that they both seemed to let go some of their ego and show respect for each other. Always been my two favorite guys!
Release Yourself
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Reply #10 posted 08/11/04 10:13pm

vainandy

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[quote]

sunlite said:



I'm from Buffalo and have heard many Rick James stories growing up there. Dez also talks about their tour with Rick in 1979, in his book.(buy it) Rick once said in an interview that when his late mother met Prince backstage and asked for an autograph, he just ignored her and walked away. On top of that, Prince stole(jerk out) Vanity from Rick at an awards afterparty back in 1981. Basically she came with Rick and left with Prince. Besides giving his band a run their money. All those things added up. Prince being 10 years younger was pushing Rick James from his "Punk Funk" throne.


I'm so glad you made your post about Dez's book. I have heard all these stories as well but only through word of mouth from some of my friends of mine and other orgers. I would loved to have posted them but had no real evidence to back the stories up.

I always had a feeling deep down that Rick was not spouting off all these years just because of a jealousy of Prince. There are so many other musicians out there so why was it always about Prince and Prince only? That never added up to me. Prince was always silent and mysterious and Rick was the total opposite....loud and arrogant. Rick's loud mouth always made him look like a fool when he complained about Prince but think about it....who else has he raised so much hell about....and for 20 plus years?

Nevertheless, I truly love both artists and am glad that Rick (in his own way) and Prince came to peace in the end.
Andy is a four letter word.
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