Rick James' music career began in the 1970s, when he played bass in several bands. In the late '70s, James signed to Motown Records as an artist and producer. His musical prowess and songwriting abilities helped Motown Records revamp their sound during the 1980s when the popularity of the label had begun to dwindle.
Rick James' debut album was entitled "Come Get It!" Released in June 1978, the record featured the hits "Mary Jane" and "You and I." The latter topped the R&B charts that year and also ranked highly on the pop charts; due to the success of these singles, "Come Get It!" sold over 500,000 copies. Subsequently, James released several unsuccessful records before scoring big again with the record "Street Songs" in 1981, which featured the smash hit "Superfreak."
After "Street Songs," James began working with other artists to revive the image of Motown Records; for example, he wrote the hit "Standing on the Top" for the Temptations. He also had several more solo hits, including the song "I Can't Stop," which appeared in the blockbuster movie "Beverly Hills Cop." Eventually, James left Motown Records and went to Reprise Records, where he continued to release albums. James died of a heart attack on Aug. 6, 2004 in Los Angeles.