Behind the music, spandex and glitter: New documentary dives into Rick James’ turbulent life

A new Showtime documentary looks at Rick James’ life, varied music stylings, and how “Super Freak” became his biggest hit. Photo courtesy of Kory Mello/Obscured Pictures.

Musician Rick James is a pioneer of the punk-funk genre in the 1970s and 1980s. He held a riveting stage presence with his long braid flying, dressed in spandex and glitter. It was a non-stop octane party while he was performing. But that party continued off-stage, often in drug-fueled orgies which morphed into a $6,000-$8,000 per week cocaine habit for James. In 1993, he was convicted of assaulting a couple of women and served time at Folsom Prison. James died in 2004 at age 56 due to a drug overdose. 

James’ life is the subject of a new documentary called “Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James.” Director Sacha Jenkins worked closely with James’ daughter Ty to tell his story. 

Credits

Guest:

  • Sacha Jenkins - director of “Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James”