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He was the nephew of Temptations singer Melvin Franklin; a boy who watched and listened, mesmerized from underneath cocktail tables at the shows of Etta James and Miles Davis. But since his passing in August , Rick James has remained a legendary icon whose name is nearly synonymous with funk music—and who popularized the genre, creating a lasting influence on pop artists from Prince to Jay-Z to Snoop Dogg, among countless others.

The unusual but appealing story-within-a-story is presented as recollected conversations with "Brotha Guru," a Buddha-like friend James makes while serving time in Folsom State Prison. The narrative device serves to introduce Brotha Guru's idea of "the Me Monster," his term for the perils of egoism and being one's own worst enemy, which becomes the book's prominent theme. James is prone to self-sabotage through drugs and sexual mishaps the most shocking anecdote being his simultaneous involvement with a mother and daughter in Sweden who hide his passport and refuse to let him leave.

By Brandon Geist. The singer is refreshingly candid about his heavy heroin addiction in the Eighties, a regrettable Rolling Stone cover story interview when he got too drunk and yelled at the writer, an unrequited threesome that landed him in court on sexual deviancy charges and the harrowing motorcycle accident that stymied his acting career he says he'd tried out for the T in Terminator 2 but lost the role due to a limp.

He also recounts some of the weird stories behind some of his greatest hits — "Dancing With Myself" was inspired by a Tokyo disco where people stared at themselves in mirrors and "Rebel Yell" was named after a whiskey he drank once with the Rolling Stones. By Kory Grow.

The Autobiography of Rick James

In Glow , Rick James' posthumously published autobiography with author David Ritz, the funk pioneer surprisingly eschews repetitive freaky tales for a deeper look at an insane life. Sure, there are unflinching looks at the singer's crack binges and violent behavior — an already unbridled id made worse by the death of James' mother — but it's the lesser-known adventures that make this essential reading for those only familiar with James' dark side.

A mob-connected dancer mom who smuggled James into the club as a child to see Miles Davis; a chance encounter with future members of the Band, who saved a teenage James from getting his ass kicked; a headache that prevented the musician from hanging out with people who would be murdered by the Manson Family that night.

Any hack can make a lost weekend enthralling, James and Ritz can make the history of "Super Freak"'s four-note descending bass line as intriguing as a pipe-filled motel-room breakdown. By Jason Newman. Back in , David Ritz helped Aretha Franklin write her memoirs, sanitized enough to be allowed into an operating room.

Rick James Biography, told by Rick James. Pt 1

This year, he issued Respect , his uncensored page biography of the Queen of Soul, and it's clearly the book he's been preparing to write his whole life. It's stuffed full with revealing interviews from Franklin's family, her musical collaborators and subjects of Ritz's other books, from Smokey Robinson to B.

Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James - Gusanito Lector

MVP interview: the saucy Etta James. By Gavin Edwards. Jerry Lee Lewis had always been inappropriate, and being a little bit famous did not change it; you can paint a barn white a thousand times, but that won't make it a house.

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Bragg grounds his story in the texture and tradition of the South, but when he tells the epic tale of the creation of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," he captures Lewis's divine madness. Reading the saga of rock's piano pioneer, you will likely agree: "It was like any life, really, but with the dull parts taken out.