*The death of Rick James 16 years ago today sent shock waves throughout the music industry.
The “King of Punk Funk,” who had pushed the envelope with such rawness as “Super Freak,” “Mary Jane” and “Give It To Me Baby,” had a drug habit that was pretty well known. He’d even poked fun at it on “Chappelle’s Show,” warning viewers that “cocaine is a hell of a drug,” months before being found unresponsive in his Los Angeles apartment on August 6, 2004.
An autopsy found the drug alprazolam, diazepam, bupropion, citalopram, hydrocodone, digoxin, chlorpheniramine, methamphetamine and cocaine in James’ system. But the coroner stated that “none of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life-threatening in and of themselves.” It was his heart that gave out, stressed with the additional burden of diabetes, a past stroke and a pace maker.
While no one can beat Charlie Murphy’s tales about the dynamic funk legend, here are some fun facts about his early days that might surprise the casual fan.
Before James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. became punk-funk originator Rick James with the 1978 release of first single “You & I,” he was known under the pseudonym Ricky James Matthews, lead singer of the Toronto-based rock band The Mynah Birds. The group, also featuring future folk legend Neil Young on guitar and future members of the rock bands Buffalo Springfield and Steppenwolf, was signed to Motown’s V.I.P. Label and set to release their lone recording “It’s My Time.” But the single was shelved and the band’s contract was nullified.
Motown owner Berry Gordy found out that military authorities were after Ricky James Matthews. He had adopted the fake name after going AWOL from the Navy and fleeing to Toronto in an attempt to avoid going to Vietnam. Not wanting any bad publicity at his clean-cut label, Gordy canceled the band’s contract and “It’s My Time” never came out. It wouldn’t see the light of day until 40 years later, when it was part of a “Motown Special” compilation released in 2006. Listen below, with lead vocals by Rick James.
It’s My Time – The Mynah Birds
After serving a year for desertion, Ricky James Matthews moved to California and rejoined Motown in 1968, but strictly as a staff songwriter. Under the pseudonym Ricky Matthews, he wrote material for The Miracles, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, and the song “Sunshine Train” for The Spinners. Listen below:
Sunshine Train – The Spinners
While writing songs for Motown, Ricky Matthews was also recording singles with various rock bands under one-off deals. He put out records as part of groups he either joined or formed, including Salt and Pepper, Great White Cane and Hot Lips.
In 1973, he signed with A&M Records and released “My Mama,” his first single under the name Rick James. (During his time at Motown with The Mynah Birds, his idol Stevie Wonder suggested he shorten the name to “Rick James,” believing “Ricky James Matthews” was too long.)
My Mama – Rick James
In 1976, James returned to his hometown of Buffalo, formed the Stone City Band and recorded his second release, “Get Up and Dance!“
Get Up And Dance – Rick James
James came full circle In 1977, signing with Motown imprint Gordy Records – this time as a recording artist. His debut album, “Come Get It!” dropped on April 20, 1978, with the funk-drenched “You & I” and “Mary Jane” cementing the groundwork for what would be his signature groove for years to come.
You & I and Mary Jane – Rick James and the Stone City Band (“Midnight Special,” Dec 1, 1978)
Niecy Nash: Actress to Host Her Own Daytime Talk Show
*Comedian and actress Niecy Nash is cooking up her own daytime talk show.
CBS Television Distribution is reportedly preparing to shoot a pilot presentation for the show with James Corden’s Fulwell73, per TheWrap.
Nash previously hosted Style Network’s “Clean Hous” between 2004 and 2011.
News of the project coincides with Nash speaking out about the criticism she has received over her surprise wedding to singer Jessica Betts.
“If I lost a fan because of who I love, then that wasn’t a real fan,” was the response from Nash while chatting with her Instagram followers.
“Who/how I love has nothing to do with my art. I’m still a skilled, Emmy-nominated, award-winning actress,” she wrote. Adding, “I didn’t stop being great at my craft because of where I lay my head … All I know is I’m happy and my projects are lit … Can’t wait for those who never stopped riding to see!”
As we reported, the “Claws” actress shocked the world with her marriage to Betts which came after she split from her second husband, Jay Tucker, in December.
The 50-year-old star claims her new lifestyle has nothing to do with her gender nor is she “coming out of the closet.”
Most recently, Nash appeared alongside her new wife in the music video for Betts’ latest single, “Catch Me.”
The video shows the actress wearing a wedding dress on the beach and also features a recording of the couple reciting their wedding vows from their recent nuptials.
“I promise to always love you and to always choose you. You are a testament to the magic that happens when your heart is opened,” Nash says in the music video. “I will meet you there, wherever there is. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Nash married Betts on Aug. 29 in an intimate ceremony in Los Angeles. The “Claws” actress opened up about their love story to PEOPLE, saying Betts is “the most beautiful soul I have ever met in my life.”
“[My marriage] has absolutely nothing to do with gender and it has everything to do with her soul,” she said.
LisaRaye McCoy Shares Details About Explosive Argument with Stacey Dash on ‘Single Ladies’ Set
*LisaRaye McCoy has offered some insight into why Stacey Dash quit the ‘Single Ladies” show that they starred in together.
The Queen Latifah produced series aired on VH1 for three seasons with the fourth season on BET.
Dash did not return for season 2, and at the time she said her exit in 2011 was personal, as she had to focus on raising her kids and the shooting schedule made parenting quite challenging, theJasminebrand.com reports.
“I truly enjoyed playing Val on Single Ladies, but I have decided to leave the show. I have to be back in L.A. with my children right now and the Single Ladies shooting location makes that impossible,” Dash said. “I wish VH1 the best of luck with the show and in maintaining the strong fanbase we developed in season one.”
McCoy had nothing but positive words to say about her co-star at the time.
“Believe me, I wish things had worked out because I thought Stacey and I were great together. She was my age and we were working it. It was sex symbol to sex symbol. But she didn’t want to be there. I was disappointed about that. She had some issues. I’m not sure exactly what those issues were. In the end, she and VH1 made a decision,” she said.
She also confirmed that she and Dash had an explosive argument on set.
“Yes, there was a disagreement over a scene. And it really wasn’t with me. It was with the director. I think it was about 2 or 3 a.m., and we’d been shooting all damn day,” McCoy explained. “Stacey tried to argue with the director about a line. And I’m like: ‘Girl, if you don’t say what the director wants you to say.’ It wasn’t that serious at first, but it went there.”
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In a recent interview with Viviva A. Fox, LisaRaye shared new details about the argument, saying: “It’s like 2:00 in the morning and we’re still at it. And she gets an attitude and she doesn’t say her line to me. So even the director was like, ‘Stacey, look at [LisaRaye’s character, Keisha] when you deliver that line and then leave.’ So, by the fourth or fifth take I’m thinking, ‘This is just a one-liner, like, girl, what’s the problem?’ And that’s what I say.”
Continuing, “And she looks and rolls her eyes, but you know I don’t think nothing … but honey child, when I tell you when the director had to come out and speak to her, I had walked over to Stacey and said, ‘Just say the line,’ she put her finger in my face and said, ‘You can’t tell me anything.’”
LisaRaye said she went “went Southside Chicago” on Stacey.
“I just said, ‘Stacy, if you don’t take your motherf–king finger out my face…’ but that’s all I had to say because by that time she was taking her heels off and strutting to her dressing room,” LisaRaye continued, “and I was like hold on, ‘You got more to say? Because I can meet you in your dressing room! You want it, you can have it.’”
Dash reportedly showed up to work the next day with a team of security to protect her from LisaRaye.
“She absolutely did,” said McCoy. “And I never said this part before, but she came with security and I was like, ‘Oh, what’s going on today?’ and they was like, ‘You! She brought them for your a**. I said, ‘Get outta here!’ I went to the d*mn producers I said, ‘Do you know how this would look if this gets out? That she had to bring security to set for me? It will make me look like I’m a bully and y’all ain’t got my back?’”
LisaRaye stayed in her dressing room until producers handled the drama with Dash.
“I said you know what, I’m bigger than this, I came here to be professional, I came here to be an actress. I came to get my check,” she added. “Let me go ahead and do what I need to do because one monkey don’t stop no show. And then she wasn’t really that relevant or important to me either. I just really didn’t think it was that big. I thought it would be something she would get over, but she just carried it on, and then I heard she had problems with wardrobe and they start coming telling their stories, and then the producers … yeah, I was just like, ‘Girl, please.”
Hear LisaRaye tell it via the Instagram clip above.
Some Texas Longhorn Band Members Refuse to Play Alma Mater Song over Minstrel Ties (Watch)
*The University of Texas Longhorn Band will not play their traditional alma mater song “The Eyes of Texas” at Saturday’s football game against Baylor University after a survey of members revealed several students aren’t willing to play it.
The song has divided the university community in recent months over its ties to minstrel shows where performers wore blackface. According to ABC13, the Daily Texan reported that a message sent to band members by leader Scott Hanna said the survey results wouldn’t affect whether the band performs at future games. The band has yet to play at a football game this season, due to safety restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.t
Band members are “evenly divided” over playing the song, the student newspaper reported, but responses from certain instrument sections would prevent the band from playing this week. The message from Hanna said many band members wanted to have further discussions about the song, which he said he would facilitate.
Student athletes asked UT-Austin to drop the school song during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, among other demands, threatening to forgo participation in recruiting and donor events. The university responded with plans to boost Black student enrollment and recruitment, but it kept the song and pledged to educate visitors and students on its history and context.
Below is a brief rundown of the song’s racist past.
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