Rick James passed away this morning at 9:20 AM in his sleep of natural causes at his Los Angeles home, per his spokesperson. He was 56 years old. He is survived by his 3 children (Ty, Rick Jr., Tazman) and 2 grandchildren (Jasmine and Charisma).
Last month, he performed his hit “Fire & Desire” with Teena Marie at the BET Awards. He had finished an album and was preparing for its release next year. He was also in discussion with various studios for a movie based on his life.
Born in Buffalo, NY, known as the King of Punk Funk, and the bad boy of Motown, Rick James blended the hard core funk of his predecessors James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton with the Rock and Roll theatrics of the Rolling Stones and Kiss. Rick James was the quintessential “Super Freak,” a term he coined in the 1980’s with the multi-platinum song he wrote, arranged, produced and performed sharing that same title. The single catapulted the album Street Songs to #1 on the R&B charts and #3 on the pop charts. This mega-talented, multi-Grammy and American Music Award winner played at least five different instruments and had not only sold millions himself, he wrote and produced songs for Eddie Murphy, Mary Jane Girls, The Temptations, Teena Marie and Smokey Robinson, all selling millions as well. He licensed his work for sampling by artists such as Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and MC Hammer, whose sample of “Super Freak” for the hit single “U Can’t Touch This” made Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em the biggest selling rap album in history.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.