Born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. in 1948, musician producer singer, Rick James, would have been 73 on February 1 of this year.
He was the third born in a family of eight to his dear mother Mabel Johnson Gladden who introduced the musical pioneer to jazz and nightlife .
After fabricating his age and enlisting in the US Naval Reserve at the mere age of 15, he went AWOL, and fled to Canada. It was there where he adopted the name Ricky James Matthews.
By 1978 when he approached Motown owner Berry Gordy he had an entire album in hand. Impressed by his tapes, Gordy signed James as a solo act to Motown where he released his album Come Get It! The new album featured two songs that immediately hit the top of the US R&B charts.
In 1979, James released two successful albums, Bustin’ Out Of L Seven and Fire It Up, and embarked on his first US tour. From there history was made with hit after hit. Rick became best known for hits like Super Freak, You and I and Mary Jane among countless others.
James died at age 56, possibly from heart failure, at his home in Los Angeles in August of 2004. He will forever remain Buffalo’s King of Punk Funk!