Rick James burst on the music
scene in the late 1970’s with the hit “You and I,” he followed it up
with “Mary Jane.” Rick was red hot and he discovered Teena
Marie and the Mary Jane Girls. His uncle, Melvin Franklin (late
Temptation member) brought him to the attention of Berry Gordy.
James was savvy in the meeting with Gordy, he refused to sign a record deal
unless he was given complete ownership of his publishing. Gordy relented.
This power move prevented James from going broke in later years before his death.
James was not only a talented
singer but he was a talented songwriter who penned hits for the Mary Jane
Girls, Smokey Robinson (duet) and Teena Marie. Throughout his
career, he tried to quit drugs but he couldn’t shake his addiction. He
became difficult to work with. During a recent interview, Teena Marie
said she and Rick often argued like siblings, they were scheduled to record
a duet but they had an argument so Marie called Eddie Levert to substitute,
due to scheduling, he was unable to but recommended his son Gerald Levert.
At the time, Gerald hadn’t come out. Marie passed on the offer, a few
months later she heard Gerald singing “Casanova,” and she was blown
Over the years Rick James
would do time in jail for assault and he began living in seclusion. During
this time, the Mary Jane Girls disbanded and it was rumored that one of the
members, allegedly, went to work as a receptionist for Motown Records.
Due to the earlier deal James struck with Gordy, he was receiving "monthly"
checks totaling $50,000-$75,0000 (publishing rights) up until his death.
This is why you never heard of Rick James going broke despite his addiction.