06 Nov "FUNK 'N' ROLL FREE AND 50, RICK JAMES SAYS HE'S PAID HIS DUES AND HE'S READY TO ROCK."
November 6, 1998
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
By Alan Dumas
News Staff Writer
Rick James is feeling like himself again, funky and bad.
“You tell the people if they want to laugh and get physical and get sexual, then come see Rick James,” he says. “All we want is for people to go back in time with us and have a great party. If you’re square then do us all a favor and stay home.”
James, the self-styled bad boy of funk in the ’70s and ’80s, is playing the Mammoth Events Center tonight. He promises he’ll do all the hits: Super Freak, Give It to Me Baby, Mary Jane, Bustin’ Out.
“We’re going to do everything and more,” he says.
James, 50, is in a different place than the last time he played Denver. He’s paroled from prison, sober and just getting around after hip replacement surgery.
“Times have changed,” James admits. “Money’s changed, too. But the music doesn’t change. We haven’t played Denver in a long time, since 1981, and we want this to be a homecoming party, just a great time.”
In 1993 James was convicted of drug possession and for assaulting a woman. After spending three years in prison, he was paroled in 1996. His girlfriend Tanya Ann Hijazi, served 15 months on the same charges.
“Have people forgiven me?” James asks. “I don’t give a s— if they forgive me. I went to prison for assault, but that woman had kicked my girlfriend in the stomach when she was pregnant, and even if I was straight at the time I still probably would have punched her out. I’m not saying it’s right or good and I paid for it. Now I can’t relive it, can’t do too much of the `what if’ thing. I just have to move on.”
James did a lot of apologizing for his behavior right after being paroled, talking to schools and community groups about the danger of drugs. Now it sounds like he wants a normal life again. But he emphasizes it’s still a drug-free life.
“We’ve proved we can go out and tour without drugs and still have a good time,” he says. “My life is more clear and centered and at least I know what town I’m in now. I have a lot of friends, Ringo Starr, Ozzie Osborne, David Crosby. They’ve showed me the way. I have a good support team. I have so much love and support it overwhelms me.”
Things were a bit rocky for James after he got out of prison.
“I wrote over 300 songs in prison, I was doing a lot of soul searching,” James says. “But they were very introspective. When I got out and made Urban Rhapsody I only used five or six. I wanted that album to be the integration of the old and new schools. I had a lot of rappers on it. But the label I was with didn’t spend any money promoting it. If Jesus Christ had an album and it didn’t get promoted it wouldn’t sell.”
So James has started his own label, Ma Records, and is going back to his rock and funk roots.
While James was recovering from hip replacement surgery, his friend Eddie Murphy came to visit. In his richer days James helped finance Murphy’s early films. Murphy returned the favor by casting James as a crime boss in his film Life. In the film James is still hobbling around with a cane.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t like it,” James says. “Making a film, there’s too much dead time. I have all the respect in the world for Eddie, but thank God I had only four days shooting. I was ready to go home.”
Now fully recovered, James says he’s singing better than ever.
“I’m back, and no one can cast a stone at me,” he says. “I paid for what I did and now it’s time to do some hard-core funk ‘n’ roll.”
When and Where: 7 tonight at the Mammoth Events Center, 1510 Clarkson St.
Cost: $40 and $27.50.
Information: (303) 830-8497.