Rick James Biography

(American Singer-Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist and Record Producer.)

Birthday: February 1, 1948 (Aquarius)

Born In: Buffalo, New York, United States

Grammy Award winning musician, songwriter, singer and record producer, Rick James was an immensely popular figure in the genre of funk music. One of the most brilliant singers, Rick James has an array of No.1 hits on the U.S. R&B charts to his credit. He began his journey into the world of music as a young teenager, who would sing in the street corners of his neighborhood, in Buffalo. It was during this time that he was drawn into the violence, drugs and street crime, a habit that will come to haunt him in his later years. One of the pioneers of the genre of funk music, he is best known for his massive funk hits ‘Super Freak’ and 'Give It to Me Baby’. This riveting performer brought with him an aura of brilliance and when he performed on stage he mesmerised audiences with his adrenaline-charged, exhilarating performances. Unfortunately, when he began to enjoy success in his career, he was personally affected with drug addiction, a habit that drew him to develop a notorious personality that eventually got him into legal troubles.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: James Ambrose Johnson Jr.,

Died At Age: 56


Spouse/Ex-: Tanya Hijazi (m. 1997–2002)

father: James Ambrose Johnson Sr.

mother: Mabel (née Gladden)

children: Rick James Jr., Tazman James, Trey Hardesty James, Ty James

Born Country: United States

Musicians Lyricists & Songwriters

Died on: August 6, 2004

place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States

Cause of Death: Respiratory Failure

City: Buffalo, New York

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Childhood & Early Life
He was born as James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., on February 1, 1948, to Mabel and James Ambrose Johnson, Sr., an autoworker, in Buffalo, New York. His father abandoned his family when Rick was around ten years old.
During his growing up years, he would sing on streets and in and around the neighbourhood and also performed in school. He attended the Orchard Park High School and Bennett High School, but dropped out when he was 15.
In 1965, after failing to report for the U.S Naval Reserve services, he escaped to Toronto. Here, he later became a part of his first band, ‘Sailor Boyz’.
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In 1978, he came up with his debut album titled, ‘Come Get It!’ which played a major role in launching his solo career in the music industry. The album also featured the hit disco number, ‘You and I’.
In 1979, he released his second album, ‘Bustin' Out of L Seven’, which was released under the Gordy Records label. The album included the hit R&B track, ‘Bustin' Out’.
On October 16, 1979, he came out with his third album, ‘Fire It Up’, which was a moderate success. The album featured the tracks, ‘Fire It Up’, ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Lovin You Is a Pleasure’.
Released in the year 1980, his fourth album, ‘Garden of Love’ featured the tracks, ‘Big Time’, ‘Don't Give Up On Love’ and ‘Island Lady’. The album was a success.
In 1981, he came out with the concept album, ‘Street Songs’, which was one of his most successful albums. The album featured the hit tracks, ‘Give It to Me Baby’ and ‘Super Freak’.
In 1982, his album, ‘Throwin' Down’ was released. The album received a gold certification but was not as popular as his previous album, ‘Street Songs’.
In 1983, he came out with the album, ‘Cold Blooded’, released under the Gordy Records label. The album featured the tracks, ‘U Bring The Freak Out’ and ‘New York Town’.
He released his album, ‘Glow’, in 1985. The album featured the tracks, ‘Spend the Night with Me’, ‘Melody Make Me Dance’ and ‘Sha La LaLaLa’.
In 1986, his album, ‘The Flag’ was released. The album included the tracks, ‘Sweet and Sexy Thing’, ‘Freak Flag’, ‘R U Experienced’, ‘Funk in Amerika / Silly Little Man’ and ‘Slow and Easy Interlude’.
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He released his album, ‘Wonderful’ under the Reprise Records label in 1988. The album included one of his most famous and hit songs, ‘Loosey's Rap’.
In 1997, he came out with his final album titled, ‘Urban Rapsody’, which was released under the Mercury Records and Private-I Records label. The album received mixed reviews.
Major Works
His single ‘Give It to Me Baby’ was immensely successful and peaked at the No.1 position on the R&B charts for a period of five weeks. The song featured in the film, ‘She's All That’.
His album, ‘Street Songs’ was an immediate success and peaked at the 3rd position on the U.S Pop chart and reached the No.1 position on the US R&B chart. The album sold four million copies across the world.
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Awards & Achievements
In 1990, he won the Grammy Award in the category, ‘Best R&B Song’ for ‘U Can't Touch This’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He had four children, Rick Jr., Trey Hardesty, Tazman, and Ty. He was romantically involved with Teena Marie.
In 1996, he married Tanya Hijazi. The couple divorced in 2002.
He was a victim of drug abuse, a habit that he took to from his early teenage years. He was addicted to Cocaine.
On August 6, 2004 at the age of 56, he was found dead at his Los Angeles home after suffering pulmonary failure and cardiac failure.
This Grammy Award winning American musician and his future wife were convicted for sexually assaulting a woman. For this offence both he and his future wife served a jail sentence.


Grammy Awards
1991 Best Rhythm & Blues Song Winner
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See the events in life of Rick James in Chronological Order

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