The Tapes Archive

#006 Rick James 1997

Episode Summary

A never before heard interview with Rick James from 1997.

Episode Notes

When I spoke to Rick James in 1997, he had already been a megastar, a prisoner, and a recipient of royalties for the use of his “Super Freak” bassline in MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”

At the time, he was about to start a tour to promote his first album in nine years, “Urban Rhapsody,” and was in the midst of writing his autobiography, “The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak,” which eventually came out in 2007—three years after his death.

In this interview, James, then 49, talked freely about his drug use, how prison turned out to be a good thing for him, what he thought of rap (not much), and his friendships with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. You’ve gotta like someone who says, “A lot of things I had done over the years, I can't remember if I did 'em or not. But they sort of sound great."

I think you’ll enjoy this interview.

As for the concert, it was OK. My review started like this:

"This is not a concert tonight; this is a reunion," Rick James announced early in his set Friday night at the Indiana Convention Center. Actually, it was both a concert and a reunion, as well as a throwback to an era when performers favored sexual innuendo (rather than outright vulgarity) and identified people by their Zodiac signs. James led his Stone City Band through an imbalanced, sporadically invigorating set in his return to action after two years in prison on a drug and assault conviction, plus years of inactivity due to drug addiction.

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Intro music by the Budos Band