New documentary reveals Super Freak Rick James loved to watch

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Rick James was one of the music world’s true wild men.

The Super Freak had an insatiable appetite for drugs and women and gorged on both.

Now, a new rockumentary — Bitchin: The Sound and Fury of Rick James — pulls back the curtain on James’ life and wild times. It premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival and will be available to stream.

One of the people interviewed is Kerry Gordy, who was James’ long-suffering manager.

Gordy — son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy — said James was desperately upset about the poor sales of his 1982 album Throwin’ Down. The tour was also a flop.

So James walked into the office of Motown chief Jay Lasker to deliver his follow-up effort.

After James left the room, the exec offered two words: “Lionel Richie.” seen here with fellow American Idol judge Katy Perry. (ABC/Eric Liebowitz)
After James left the room, the exec offered two words: “Lionel Richie.” seen here with fellow American Idol judge Katy Perry. (ABC/Eric Liebowitz)

James proceeded to pour cocaine onto the executive’s desk, hoovered it up, then pulled out his penis and shoved his unsheathed member into the stunned exec’s face.

James then yelled: “Sell my goddamn record!”

Lasker, Gordy says in the doc, uttered two words after James left the room: “Lionel Richie.” He was saying that all Motown’s marketing muscle would be behind the former Commodores star and James’ career was effectively over.

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James was born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. in Buffalo, NY, and died at the young age of 56 in 2004 from cardiac and pulmonary failure.

At the top of his game, James was hard to beat.
At the top of his game, James was hard to beat. Photo by HANDOUT /Bitchin: The Sound and Fury of Rick James

An autopsy revealed he had nine different drugs in his system.

Earlier in his career, James fled to Toronto to escape his U.S. Navy service at the height of the Vietnam War. In the Big Smoke, he hooked up with Neil Young and they formed a group called the Mynah Birds.

According to the documentary, the band’s manager ratted him out to the authorities for desertion and he was booted from Canada.

Fame finally found James in the late 1970’s when he pulled together his Stone City Band featuring some of his favourite Buffalo players.

Everyone had to have their hair styled in the same fashion.

“He said, ‘If you wanna be a part of this band, you have to get your braids,’” drummer Lanise Hughes said.

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And the drugs!

Rock stars didn’t come much wilder than Rich James.
Rock stars didn’t come much wilder than Rich James. Photo by HANDOUT /Bitchin: The Sound and Fury of Rick James

“There was plenty of dope around,” keyboardist Levi Ruffin Jr. says in the documentary. “I think I snorted everything on God’s planet Earth when I was in the band.”

James makes an appearance in archival footage about the extent of the band’s doped-up antics.

“We were f—ing standing on the verge of insanity in those days. Everybody was snorting cocaine. Everybody was taking quaaludes, drinking Cristal and Dom Perignon champagne, and getting butt naked and doing it in the bathroom,” the tragic star says.

Drugs haunted James until the day he died.

James’ other penchant was sex, lots of it, and as kinky as possible, but most was voyeuristic in nature.

“His sexual exploits were more, ‘You do that to that person. Let me watch. I wanna orchestrate some s— over here,’” his ex-wife Tanya Hijazi said. “He wasn’t personally involved. He was not that kind of super freak. He didn’t let people touch him. He wasn’t, like, in the orgy — he would watch the orgy.”

The doc also reveals James wasn’t fond of the man who should have been his natural protege: Prince.

“Rick definitely had an attitude with Prince. They just was competing with one another,” says Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins, who did some shows with both men.

“They would pull plugs on each other … and (be) getting ready to go to blows.”

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun

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