The seventies and eighties were great eras that produced some of the best artists we know and love. One artist, in particular, was Rick James. James led a super-freak lifestyle. But did you know he had a close encounter with Salvador Dali in Hawaii?
Salvador Dali and Rick James both attended the same dinner party in Hawaii. Dali insisted on sketching James on a napkin. The sketch became an inky blob when James went swimming the next day, forgetting about the napkin in his pocket.
Who Was Rick James?
James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. was born on February 1, 1948, in Buffalo, New York. He was the third child of a strict Catholic single mother. Johnson, better known as Rick James, was the nephew of The Temptations’ bass vocalist Melvin Franklin, exposing him to the music scene. (Source: Biography)
James started his career as a musician in 1964 when he tried avoiding getting enlisted for the Vietnam war. He crossed the border into Ontario, Canada, where he formed his first band, The Mynah Birds, with Neil Young and Bruce Palmer. They recorded in Motown but could not release any single because the Army caught James. (Source: Lipstick Alley)
Upon his return in 1968, he wrote and produced under Terry Johnson’s name and played bass around Los Angeles, California, with short-lived bands. James got his break in 1977 when he started as a solo artist, releasing his first album, Come and Get It! He then released two albums in 1979, Fire It Up and Bustin’ Out of L Seven, making him famous for his brand of danceable funk music and his trademark braids.
James soon became known as the King of Punk-Funk, and in 1981 he released his Grammy-nominated Super Freak in his Street Songs album. The album also included popular songs like Give It to Me Baby, Fire and Desire, Ghetto Life, Teardrops, Cold-blooded, and Glow.
James continued with his music career and drug abuse throughout the eighties and nineties. He spent two years in prison and paid $2 million in a civil suit. He attempted a comeback in the music industry in 1995 but suffered a mild stroke in 1997. James passed away on August 6, 2004, due to a pulmonary and cardiac failure in Burbank, California. (Source: Biography)
Rick James’ Autobiography
Rick James’ autobiography Glow accounts his adventures. Here are a few highlights from his autobiography.
Rick James had several casual hookups with famous women, such as Linda Blair from the movie The Exorcist, the supermodel Iman, Catherine Bach from The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, and Jan Gaye, Marvin Gaye’s wife.
James used to smuggle drugs from India and Columbia before he started his career in the music industry.
When James went on live television in the American Bandstand show, he used so much cocaine that his nose ran profusely. The show’s host, as well as the millions of watchers, figured out that James was high on cocaine.
Salvador Dali, the famous artist, insisted on drawing Rick James. He sketched James on a napkin and gave it to James. James forgot about the drawing on his pocket when he smoked a joint and swam the next day.
James’ rehab buddy was Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Tyler would goof around with James, jumping on his back for piggyback rides. (Source: USA Today)