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Rick James

Born on 2-1-1948. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of the Arts. He later died on 8-6-2004.
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Born James A. Johnson, Jr. in Buffalo, New York, Rick grew up in the Perry and Willert Park Projects, later moving to the Cold Springs section of the city. Rick nurtured his early music skills on pots and pans; playing on anything that produced a sound. He hummed and then he sang; starting first in the choir at St. Bridget's Roman Catholic Church where he also served an altar boy. He later joined the Cadet Drum Corps. Rick loved music and played the congos, bongos and danced under the tutelage of Malcolm Erni. Rich was involved in the beginning of the African Cultural Center. He played in the Bennett High School Band and sang in street corner groups with lifelong friends, Levi Ruffin and Jimmie Steward.
Rick was also an athlete; engaging in sports at Public School #53, football with the Masten Minutemen Football Team and basketball at the Humboldt YMCA.
Rick joined the United States Navy at age 15. However, he found the service to be too disciplined. Rick was active in the Toronto music scene in the mid-60s as a member of the hugely popular Mynah Birds, which also included future Buffalo Springfield members, Neil Young and Bruce Palmer. He relocated in the early 70s to Britain where he formed the group, Main Line. Early in his career he co-wrote for Motown artist Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. He signed in the early 70s with Motown as a duet with rock legend Neil Young but the LP was not released.
Rick was signed again with Motown in 1977. He drew inspiration for his music from his rock background and funk pioneers George Clinton, Sly Stone and Buffalo's Dyke and the Blazers. But his music was fresh and original, blended with riffs and rhythm from all his Buffalo-based bands.
In 1978 he scored his first Number 1 hit and top 20 popular hit entitled "You and I". Quickly following were the tunes, "Mary Jane" and "Bustin Out". By this time Rick was considered a star and creator of a new sound called "Punk Funk".
Rick's career was soaring by 1981 when his album went to No. 1 on the R & B charts and No. 3 on the pop chart. The multi-platinum LP produced by the No. 1 R & B "Give It To Me Baby", but its No. 3 successor "Super Freak" enjoyed a longer life with a sample used by MC Hammer on "U Can't Touch This". This record sold over 20 million LPs and launched the sampling craze of Rick's music.
Throughout the 80s, Rick found huge success at Motown, producing hits for Teena Marie, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Eddie Murphy, the Mary Jane Girls, Val Young, the Stone City Band (his heart and soul), Process and the Doo Rags. Scoring hits like "Standing on the Top", "Party All the Time", "Ebony Eyes", "My House", and many, many others. Rick's road tours set many records in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Baton Rouge (Still Standing) and Memphis breaking hometown record. His tour was a worldwide success. With the onset of rap music and sampling, Rick's music surfaced as top choice to many artists such as EPMD, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Quick, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Lopez and many others.
James worked with many other artists such as Val Young, Kanye West, Nelly, Mya and others who found platinum hits in Rick James. Rick was the first major artist to use rappers in music and tours. Grandmaster Flash appeared on the "Street Songs" smash LP and tour. Rick was recently honored with the heritage life-time achievement award from ASCAP. At the ceremony he announced plans for his new CD. Rick also received a Grammy for his work on the "Beverly Hills Cop" soundtrack. At the ASCAP awards it was revealed that Rick was the most sampled artist of the millennium. Today one can't watch TV without hearing Rick James. From Super Bowl commercials to movies. This truly creative man roared back even stronger this year thanks to a series of hilarious sketches on Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show." The show's host/creator, Dave Chappelle was in talks to star as James in a film based on his upcoming autobiography, "Memoirs of a Super Freak."
VH1 stated that "Behind the Music with Rick James" was the most requested program in the series. After a recent stroke, Rick said that, "God sat me down to pay attention and told me to get back up and hit the stage and I'm enjoying it." Rick was a true family man. He loved his children, Ty, Ricky and Tasman. He loved his brothers and sisters Carmen, Camille, LeRoi, Sheryl, Alberta, William and Alicia. Rick was proud of his cousins Mayor Carl B. Stokes and brother Congressman Louis Stokes and often bragged about them. He was also very proud of Cousin Melvin Franklin of the Temptations, James Brown, Danny Glover and Dr. Robert Scott. Rick was a true family man always stating family first. His family went beyond blood and included Teena Marie, who will be forever remembered, his close friend William Thorton, Linda Hunt, Charles and Eddie Murphy and family and Jermaine Jackson who have been beside Rick for years.
Rick maintained a strong love for Berry Gordy and the entire Motown family long after leaving Motown and he knew they loved him. His beloved daughter, Ty is pursuing a career in music. His son Ricky is an accomplished artist. His youngest son, Tasman is 12 with a great life ahead. Rick cherished his two granddaughters, Jasmin ad Charisma. Rick's brilliant career was cut short suddenly when he died on August 4, 2004 in his sleep.
He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.