Rick Jameswas born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. On February 1, 1948, in Buffalo, New York. James was number three of eight children. His uncle was Melvin Franklin, bass, vocalist with the group, The temptations. He had two cousins, one was Carl Stokes, who was first black mayor of Cleveland, and Louis Stokes, is a former Ohio congressman. Rick fled to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1964 because he was a member of the U. S. Naval reserves and he had been missing his weekend meetings because they interfered with his music career. He began using the stage name Ricky Matthews and continued his music career. The Mynah Birds was the name of his first band. The other members were Neil Young and later, Steppenwolf member, Nick St. Nicholas. The group recorded a single for the Canadian side of Columbia records and also in 1965 St. Nicholas left the band and they replaced him with Bruce Palmer. The Mynah Birds formed a new band lineup. They had Tom Morgan and John Taylor on guitars, and Rickman Mason on the drums. They fired their manager after he stole some money they were going to pay for a recording with Motown records. The manager wanted revenge and reported Rick to the FBI for being awol. Rich spent one year in the brig for it, then returned to Toronto for a while. In 1967, he formed another version of the Mynah Birds with Neil Merryweather. They returned to Motown and Detroit and recorded a new version of, It’s My Time, but the band broke up shortly after that. Rick returned to Motown and became a songwriter and producer. This time he was using the name Terry Johnson. He worked with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Bobby Taylor and the Vancovers, and The Spinners.
Rick spent 2 years in Folsom Prison and lost 2 million dollars in a civil suit to a woman he had assaulted. He still wrote music while he was in prison.
In 1969 Rick moved to Los Angeles, California and formed the band called Salt, Pepper, ‘N’ Cocaine with Ed Roth, Dave Burt, and Coffi Hall. He continued trying but in the meantime he became very dependent on drugs. On August 6, 2004, Rick was found dead in his home in Burbank, California. He had died from pulmonary and cardiac failure. He had previous health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, had a pacemaker , heart attack, and there were traces of cocaine in his bloodstream.
Rick James had albums such as, Come get It, Bustin Out Of L Seven, Fire It Up, Garden Of Love, Street Songs, Throwin’ Down, Cold Blooded, Reflections, Glow, The Flag, Wonderful, Kickin’, Rick & Friends, Bustin’ Out: The Very best of Rick James, Urban Rapsody,, Gold, and deeper Still.
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