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The night Rick James almost beat up Prince, bitch!
03:42 pm


Rick James

Prince has been one of the most respected artists in the world for decades now, but it wasn’t always so. As a hungry and ambitious musician out of Minneapolis, there were a few years there when Prince was just another performer with some great songs and a whole lot of promise, just like many others. In 1980 Prince opened for Rick James on his Fire It Up tour, a tour that was not without its share of acrimony and represented, in the eyes of many, a symbolic passing of the mantle from one “punk-funk” superstar to another.

To this day that tour is known as the “Battle of Funk” tour.

James’ two autobiographies, The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak and Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James, are both great reads and they are rife with the kind of backhanded compliments and disses that you might expect to come from an older star who had so obviously been usurped by a younger rival. For instance, this from The Confessions of Rick James:

The first time I saw Prince and his band I felt sorry for him. Here’s this little dude wearing hi-heels, playing this New Wave Rock & Roll, not moving or anything on stage, just standing there wearing this trench coat. Then at the end of his set he’d take off his trench coat and he’d be wearing little girl’s bloomers. I just died. The guys in the audience just booed the poor thing to death.

In Glow we get the same episode worded differently, but this time he ends it with, “The crowd booed. I felt sorry for the cat.” Sure, Rick, you felt sorry for Prince.

Later on in Glow, one of James’ musicians tells his boss that Prince has been “copping all your licks.” James decides to check it out—turns out “my guy was right. Prince was emulating my mic moves like a motherfucker. He was calling out my funk chants and even flashing my funk sign.” (That reminds me. I really need to work on my funk chants.)

In the same section James calls Prince’s band “a bunch of snobs.”

James clearly had Prince on the brain for a while there. He told Rolling Stone magazine that Prince was “a mentally disturbed young man” who “sings songs about oral sex and incest.” In 1983 he told Blues & Soul, “He doesn’t want to be black. My job is to keep reality over this little science fiction creep.”

According to Teena Marie, James stole Prince’s programmed synthesizers and used them on his own 1981 album Street Songs, and then sent them back to him “with a thank-you card.”

In early 1982 Street Songs won an American Music Award for “Favorite Album—Soul/R&B,” at the afterparty hosted by Dick Clark (who had invented the award in the first place) the following story took place, at least as James tells it in Glow. James was in attendance with his mother.

Mom was beautiful. She was impressed with stars and never tried to hide it. In fact, she collected autographs.
“Guess who I just saw, James?” she said to me.
“You didn’t ask him for his autograph, did you?”
“I sure did.”
“Because I like his music, son. I think he’s great.”
“Okay. So now you have Prince’s autograph.”
“Wish I did. When I asked him, he just turned around and walked away.”
“You’re kidding.”
“No, I guess he don’t like giving out autographs.”
That’s all I needed to hear. I chased after that little turd. I caught up with him and was about to lay him out when his manager stepped in.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Rick?” asked the manager.
I told him Prince had dissed Mom and that I was gonna kick his scrawny ass. Prince explained that he didn’t know who Mom was.
“Well, now you know, motherfucker,” I said.
“Prince will be happy to apologize to your mother,” said the manager, “and he will be happy to apologize to you.”
Prince apologized to Mom and apologized to me. I was a little disappointed ‘cause I really did wanna kick his ass.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
BASS IN YOUR FACE: Isolated bass parts of Sonic Youth, Rolling Stones, The Police, Rick James & more

Poor bass players. In the hierarchy of rockbandland, even the mercenary backup singers get more love. Like a drummer, a crummy one can wreck your band, but unlike a drummer, even a superb bass player can fade into the background, seeming for all the world like a mere utility placeholder while the singer, guitarist and drummer all get laid. Before the ‘80s, the bass player was perceived as the would-be guitarist who couldn’t make the cut and got offered a reduction in strings as a consolation prize. Since the ‘80s, bass has been the “easy” instrument a singer hands off to his girlfriend to get her in the band.

It’s all a crock of utter shit. A good bass player is your band’s spine, and is a gift to be cherished.

An excellent online resource for bassists,, has links to an abundance of isolated bass tracks, from celebrated solos to deep cuts to which few casual fans give much thought. There are, of course, song-length showoffs like “YYZ” and “Roundabout,” but there are unassuming gems to be found too. Check out how awesome Tony Butler’s part is in Big Country’s kinda-eponymous debut single. It wanders off into admirable weirdness, but when the time comes to do the job of propelling the song forward, this shit is rocket fuel.


Though Sting has been engaged in a long-running battle with Bono to see who can be the most tedious ass to have released nothing of worth in over 25 years, listening to his playing in the Police serves as an instant reminder of why we even know who he is. The grooves in “Message In A Bottle” are famously inventive and satisfying, but even his work on more straightforward stuff like “Next To You” slays. You can practically hear the dirt on his strings in these.



Funny, as much of a trope as “chick bass player” has become, loads of time spent searching yielded almost no isolated tracks from female bassists. Which is ridiculous. The only one I found was Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, heard here on “Teenage Riot.” It takes a bit to work up to speed. Taken on its own, it’s a minimal, meditative, and quite lovely drone piece.


Here’s a gem—a live recording of Billy Cox, from Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, eating “All Along The Watchtower” for breakfast.


This one was a revelation—the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman on “Gimme Shelter.” I knew this was a great bass part, but there’s stuff in here I’ve never heard before, and it’s excellent. I should have been paying more attention.


But is there “Super Freak?” Oh yeah, there’s “Super Freak.”


I searched mightily to find isolated bass tracks from Spinal Tap’s gloriously excessive ode to both low-ends, “Big Bottom,” before I realized there would be absolutely no point in doing that. So I leave you with the unadulterated real thing.

Previously on DM: The incomparable James Jamerson: isolated

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Neil Young and Rick James’ garage band, The Mynah Birds, 1965

In 1965, a year before hooking up with the musicians who would form The Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young had a brief stint in a Canadian rock group called The Mynah Birds fronted by Rick James (yes, THAT Rick James). At this point in James’ career he was known as Ricky James Matthew and did a stellar imitation of Mick Jagger. The group had a raw exciting sound that hinted at The Stones, Them, and various American garage bands. The Mynah Birds nailed a deal with Motown Records (the first white band to do so) and recorded sixteen tracks in Detroit. But things turned bad.

In his authorized Neil Young biography, Shakey, Jimmy McDonough describes the scene:

The Mynah Birds—in black leather jackets, yellow turtlenecks and boots—had quite a surreal scene going. The band was financed by John Craig Eaton of the Eaton’s department-store dynasty. Legend has it he poured money into the band, establishing a bottomless account for the band’s equipment needs.

Those lucky enough to see any of the band’s few gigs say they were electrifying. ‘Neil would stop playing lead, do a harp solo, throw the harmonica way up in the air and Ricky would catch it and continue the solo.’

Unfortunately, everything screeched to a halt when James was busted in the studio for being AWOL from the navy. “We thought he was Canadian,” said Palmer. “Even though there are no Negroes in Canada.” A single, “It’s My Time,” was allegedly pulled the day of release, and the album recordings were shelved and remain unreleased to this day.”

Here’s a couple of hard-rocking tracks from the legendary Motown Mynah Birds’ sessions. The musicians are Young and future Buffalo Springfield member Bruce Palmer and Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas who would later establish Steppenwolf with John Kay.

“It’s My Time” was co-written by Young and James:

“I’ll Wait Forever”:

“I’ve Got You In My Soul “:

“Go On And Cry”:

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Funky Litigation: Rick James on ‘Judge Joe Brown’
08:33 am


Rick James
Judge Joe Brown

More daytime TV courtroom drama featuring rock stars!

The perfect follow up to the Judge Judy clip featuring John Lydon I posted earlier this week, this time it’s the turn of the super freak himself, Mr Rick James, to stand in the dock, on the show Judge Joe Brown.

James is there to sue the pants off guitarist Jeronne Turner, to whom he lent a guitar and amp which subsequently got stolen from Turner’s car. That’s some cold blooded shit right there, Rick!

(In case you’re not familiar with “Cold Blooded”, James’ excellent slice of minimal electrofunk from 1983, you can hear it here. Apparently the song was inspired by James’ relationship with Linda Blair.)

Perhaps not as cold blooded as James claiming that Turner, who apparently has “a little sugar in his tank” (though he has no problem with homosexuals he is at pains to stress) groped James’ butt for a period of 40 or so seconds when they were hanging out in Club Hollywood. James is still happy to let Turner call him “Rick” just as long as he pays him. He even admits at the end, in fact, that if he WAS gay, he’d marry Turner!

As ever, Rick James is highly entertaining. If you crave more courtroom action, there’s some more videos of rockers in the dock on this excellent post on the Yuppie Punk blog. It’s fairly old now, so some of the clips have been taken down, but I’m sure if you hunt around you can find them.

Thankfully, this one still exists in its entirety:

Note: I can’t find a date for this clip - anyone have any ideas? The show first aired in 1998 and James died in 2004, so there’s the ball park.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘U Can’t Kiss This’: Tom Jones, Prince, MC Hammer and Rick James
01:02 am

Pop Culture

Tom Jones
Rick James
MC Hammer

Mashup of the week. U Can’t Kiss This.

Thanks, Al­pha1999.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment