There’s a party at Rick James‘s house, so grab a friend and bring a crack pipe! Perhaps that’s what 24-year-old Frances Alley was told before heading over to Rick’s West Hollywood home one night in 1991.
Hits like “Give it to Me” and “Superfreak” made Rick one of the biggest Motown stars of the ’70s and ’80s, but his fame began to fade during the following decade. When M.C. Hammer sampled Rick’s “Superfreak” on “U Can’t Touch This” in 1990, Rick reportedly made $30 million off the song, which more than supported his alleged $15,000-per-week cocaine habit. It was during a coke binge that Rick and his girlfriend Tanya Hijazi tied Alley up, forced her to perform sexual acts, and burned her legs and abdomen with the hot end of a crack cocaine pipe. And then, a year later — while James was out on bail — music executive Mary Sauger testified that when she’d gone to his hotel room for a business meeting, Rick and Tanya proceeded to beat her and hold her prisoner for 20 hours.
Rick spent nearly three years in Folsom State Penitentiary and was released in 1996. He continued to release mildly successful albums, including Urban Rhapsody in 1997 and Anthology in 2002, but never quite regained his “Superfreak” status. He was found dead of a heart attack in his Burbank apartment in 2004 with traces of Xanax, Valium, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Vicodin, marijuana, cocaine, and Ecstasy in his bloodstream.