Rick James

February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004 

Cocaine’s a helluva drug.


Rick James
Rick James


One of my favorite moments occurred in Ft. Lauderdale, circa 1979. It was a wet t-shirt contest at I believe Penrod’s or The Candy Store. A woman strolled out, with the most hugest breasticles I have ever seen.  Rick James’ song “Give It To Me Baby” started to play, and she grabbed her mammalia and swung them back and forth to the beat. I just stood there… absolutely speechless. I love that memory.

Rick was another poster boy for excess. He came complete with a 1994 stint in prison for keeping a woman hostage and burning her with a crack pipe (as you do) in the Argyll Hotel on the Sunset Strip.



It was the second time Rick was arrested for the same offence.



June 2005: Okay, I stand corrected.  According to a friend of Findadeath, ” He was NOT found guilty of burning a woman with a crack pipe…….he was found innocent of that offense and did not do time for that. Plus the ‘so called’ crack pipe incident did not occur at the Argyle hotel. Just to get facts straight…..he went to prison for 2 things 1) cocaine possession (duh) and 2) for assaulting a woman at the Argyle hotel (different woman). The woman and Tanya were fighting over some bullshit and the woman kicked Tanya in her stomach….Tanya was 8 months pregnant with Taz at the time. Sooooo…..Rick lost his mind on her and admits he probably wouldn’t have to that extent if he weren’t high. But he basically just punched her in the face a few times for what she did. He’s no angel, but holding someone hostage & burning her with a crack pipe is a pretty insane thing to get dubbed for doing. Punching someone is, I suppose, fairly ‘normal aggressive behavior!’ Whatever, it just pisses me off when I read shit and I’m sure you got the info from something you read.

Have any of you seen The Dave Chapelle Show – and the “I’m Rick James, Bitch” skit?  It is damn funny, and the Charlie Murphy stories about Rick are great.  Try a little MP3sample.

James suffered a stroke after his release from prison in 1998, months after he had hip replacement surgery.  He was also diabetic, and had a pace maker.  He was honored in June at the 17th annual Rhythm & Soul Awards. As he surveyed the smooth glass surface of the award, he said, “Years ago, I would have used this for something totally different. Cocaine’s a hell of a drug.”

Rick was living in a condo on Barham in Burbank called The Oakwood.



Oh the humidity. You can too.  He moved out of his house because he was renting it and the owner decided to sell — and Rick didn’t want to buy that house. He was having a very hard time finding a house to buy so he stayed in some hotels and then went to the Oakwood in the meantime. He was probably there for about 6 months or so. The last couple of months he was there, Jamie Foxx was going to produce a realty show on him and was helping him look for a house in Beverly Hills that he could live in and use for the show.

Thursday 8/5 he was going to sleep — he said he was going back on the road with Teena Marie in a few days and needed his rest. He got under the covers, and died some time that night.  He was found in bed.  Officially he was last seen alive by his assistant in the afternoon of August 5, 2004. At around 9:30 the next morning she tried waking him, and found him cold and unresponsive. She called the paramedics and he was pronounced dead at 9:52 a.m.

A “female friend” reported to a tabloid that she spent the previous evening with Rick, and that he was “high for an entire week straight prior to his death.”  She also said that Rick told her that his “stroke gave him a twitch that only cocaine could ease.”

Thanks to Ted at Celebrity Collectables for providing us with this rather extensive autopsy report, chock full of fascinating facts and a complete list of the 9 drugs found in Rick’s system, as well as proof that Rick did indeed eat his vegetables.  According to the report, the medical examiner states: After careful review of the circumstances, autopsy, toxicological and neuropathological examination, the manner of this death is considered to be accidental.

A public viewing was held from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 11, 2004, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, the same place where I saw his cousin Melvin Franklin from the Temptations laid out in all his finery.



There was a Los Angeles funeral service on Thursday at 11 a.m., and was open to the public.  (WARNING: Dead Pic!) Rick was dressed in a black suit and yellow shirt, his long hair in his trademark braids and two flashy gold pendants around his neck. 1200 fans and celebrities, including Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., Stevie Wonder and Jermaine Jackson (WARNING: Dead Pic 2!) honored James with a musical tribute.




After this service, Rick was shipped back to New York.  About 6000 people filed past his open casket, in lines that were over two blocks long.  Seventy gospel singers performed during the service that took place on Saturday.



Read the list of pallbearers.

Now there are rumors about fighting over Rick’s money. As per.  I was just reading Barry White estate information also at Celebrity Collectables, and what a mess.  Fascinating to read, but what a mess. Take it from me, write out a will. It makes life so much easier for those left behind.

Findadeath.com friend Paul Sheridan sends us this:  One of the funniest things I have ever heard was either on the “Grammy’s” or the “American Music Awards” in the mid-80’s. Rick James was a ‘presenter’ with the ‘ever-scary’ Grace Jones. Grace had on a hat? that could only be described as ……looking like a toy that was around in the 60’s…..looked like a propeller inside a ‘hula-hoop’ that was tossed around like a ‘Frisbee’. Mr. James looks at Grace (RJ is obviously high)……then looks down into front row of the audience and says “Hey Stevie, you should see this!” Gasps mixed with laughter as the camera cuts to Stevie Wonder.  Thanks Paul.  One of these days I’ll tell you about an interesting evening I had with Grace.



Findadeath.com friend Mary says:  Oh oh, I did meet Tanya Hijazi (Rick James’ ex-wife) … Pretty funny, we were  lamenting the assholes that are our baby daddies, but she never let on who  hers was. She was showing soccer pics of Taz all proud-like and it all seemed so  familiar to me. Hmm. So I googled her when I got home. She’s beautiful in  person, but seemed rather troubled. I guess being convicted with the Superfreak  for burning a chick with a crack pipe will do that to you.



This just in, from Findadeath friend Eva:

I just finished reading your Rick James addition and while poring over it, I noticed Bruce Palmer’s name in the article. Did you know that Bruce Palmer passed away on October 1st of this year?
I was lucky enough to have lived in Toronto in 1977 and I got to know Bruce through a mutual friend.  He loved baseball and we’d often get together for a few beers to watch baseball at a bar in downtown Toronto; I wish I could remember the name of the place.



This just in, December 2004, from Findadeath friend Stephanie:

Hi Scott!.
I have been a big fan of your page since the early days. You are a beautiful queen for doing this.  I wanted to know if you were aware that Rick James was the nephew of Melvin Franklin (the bass singer of the Temptations–yeah, I saw the link to his page so I guess you do) but in the song “Super Freak” near the end he shouts out “Temptations Sing!” and that’s really them! He also did their comeback song “Standing on the Top” and shouts the same thing in the first chorus. You really have to do a story about the Temptations, since four out of five of them are dead. The miniseries was a trip and Leon was a dead ringer for David Ruffin.



December 2004 again, from Findadeath friend Michael H:

Many people thought that legendary singer and bass player Rick James would be giving out millions of dollars after his death. “CJ” has Rick’s will and exclusive details on what he left behind.
Give It To Me — The Rick James Will



November 23, 2004:

Classics like “Super Freak” made the late Rick James the phenom of funk, but despite selling millions of records, it turns out the man born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., a.k.a. Rick James, left an estate worth less than $250,000 according to court records.

Nonetheless, attorney Steffeny Holtz, who once represented James and is now the lawyer for Ty James, one of the singer’s three children, told “CJ” that Rick’s music will generate lots of income for his heir for decades.

“You can’t just look at that number,” Holtz insisted of James’ estate. “That’s a number that moves all the time. Every time they play ‘Super Freak,’ it generates income for the estate.”

And there’s even more music to come, Holtz revealed: “Rick was working with some artists right before he passed away. I know Kanye West was working with Rick.”

Who knows what a combo of rap star Kanye (known for “Through the Wire”) and Rick might have produced? “There’s a lot of music still that’s going to come out,” Holtz confirmed. “And you’ll hear it, and it is good stuff. There are some surprises in store.”

The future may look bright, but sources tell “CJ” that Rick’s legal problems are what depleted his estate. James reportedly paid $1.8 million to a woman who sued him after he pleaded no contest to assault, and he struggled in other ways. The coroner’s report listed cocaine, meth, Valium and Vicodin in his system, concluding that James died from a heart attack.

“He had heart issues and medical problems, so he may have turned to some of those prescription-type drugs and other things to help him with the pain,” Holtz admitted, but insisted that, while James did struggle, the huge crowd that turned out for his funeral shows he was rich in the most important ways: in friendship and in spirit. “He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever had the fortune to meet. And he’s up there laughing at us all because he got every penny out of his life. The legacy goes on.”

Holtz says a foundation is being considered in Rick’s memory and that he even wrote a book that will soon be released. The title? “Memoirs of a Super Freak.”

Thanks, Michael!
James’ 1981 hit “Super Freak” earned him a Grammy for best R&B song nearly a decade later, after rapper MC Hammer, who shared the Grammy, used it in his “U Can’t Touch This.”



Anything you need to know about Rick, can be found here.



One thought on “Rick James

  • August 30, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Rick James also lived in a big beautiful home in Orchard Park, NY in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I have some Google Earth screenshots, but I’m not sure how to upload them here.

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