Rick James

Born: February 1, 1948
Buffalo, NY, USA

Rick James, who was AWOL from the US naval reserves arrived in Toronto in early 1964 and formed a band called The Sailor Boys. The group, with several personnel changes including future Steppenwolf bass player Nick St Nicholas, subsequently became The Mynah Birds. The group recorded a novelty single in late 1964 for Columbia Records which bombed. The group then underwent a lot of changes in personnel - St Nicholas was swapped for Bruce Palmer in Jack London & The Sparrows, and keyboardist Goldie McJohn joined amongst others. During late 1965, McJohn left to join The Sparrows (now without Jack London) and that group evolved into Steppenwolf. Shortly afterwards, Neil Young joined and The Mynah Birds were signed to Motown Records. An album of material was recorded in February 1966 in Detroit, before James was arrested for being AWOL and the record was shelved. Young and Palmer returned to Toronto but soon moved to L.A. and formed Buffalo Springfield. James later worked as an in-house writer for Motown before returning to Toronto in late 1969 and joining Mike McKenna's band Mainline for a tour. He then moved to L.A. and appeared on Bruce Palmer's solo album, The Cycle is Complete. Shortly afterwards, he headed back to Toronto and joined Heaven & Earth, a studio band including ex-Maple Oak member Stan Endersby (guitar), Denny Gerrard (bass) formerly of The Paupers and Ed Roth (keyboards). The Group recorded two singles for RCA Victor before evolving into Great White Cane, which made an album for Lion Records in 1972 in Los Angeles. James subsequently returned once more to Toronto and recorded with Gorilla and the Stone City Band (which are one point featured former Rhinoceros members, Peter Hodgson and Malcolm Tomlinson). He then struck lucky with the single, Get Up and Dance, which helped launch him in the US. He signed to Motown again and became a funk star in the late '70s with the hit single, You and I.

Thanks Nick, biographer extraordinare.

Instruments Played / Skills:
Songwriter Vocals


Rick James Has Worked With:
Malcolm Tomlinson Stan Endersby
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