Rick James

About Rick James

Rick James got an early start on his music career, forming the Mynah Birds with future Buffalo Springfield members Neil Young and Bruce Palmer while still in his teens. Though signed to Motown, the group fell apart when James got in trouble for draft-dodging. He rebounded in the '70s, eventually becoming a solo star with his winning combination of rock, pop, and funk (which he called "punk funk"), scoring numerous hits in the '70s and '80s. He became quite the impresario, producing Teena Marie, the Mary Jane Girls, and others. James's biggest visibility in the '90s came from being sampled for M.C. Hammer's megahit "U Can't Touch This," and then from an arrest for drugs and various other more violent crimes. By the end of the decade, however, he was free, clean, and back to recording and performing, getting the chance to clean up his legacy before passing away in 2004.