Showtime has released the trailer for a soon-to-be-released documentary about music icon Rick James, Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James. Directed by Emmy nominee Sacha Jenkins, the film was initially screened at the Tribeca Festival in June. It contains rare footage, never-before-seen videos, and interviews with legendary artists, collaborators, and friends of the “Ghetto Life” artist.
A press release for the documentary described the film as “an intimate yet propulsive look at Rick James, one of rock, funk, and R&B’s most legendary and often underappreciated figure.” The memo added, “the documentary presents a full picture of James’ dramatic rise and fall, focusing in on the ‘Punk-Funk’ music he left behind.”
He added, “Rick, when he started out, he wanted to be a rock star. So when you look at the configuration, the full realization of the Rick James persona, he took a little from here and a little from there and a little from here, because he was authentic to rock and roll and authentic to soul and authentic to funk. He was able to create this persona that was contemporary to George Clinton and P Funk and all those groups, but very unique to himself.”
Rick James, born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. in 1948 passed away in August 2004 at the age of 56. He is best known for the songs “Superfreak,” “Give It To Me Baby,” and “Mary Jane,” and was introduced to a new generation through skits on Chapelle’s Show. His career, spanning decades, was acclaimed by hit records and a unique voice, look, and sound, but also plagued by drug use, health issues, and assault allegations.
Billboard reported in 2004, the coroner officially ruled James’ cause of death as a heart attack due to an enlarged heart, with numerous drugs, including methamphetamine and cocaine, as contributing factors.
“He didn’t die of a drug overdose,” said coroner’s spokesman David Campbell. A coroner’s statement revealed, “None of the drugs or drug combinations were found to be at levels that were life-threatening in and of themselves.”
Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James will premiere on Sept. 3. The documentary is a Mass Appeal production for Showtime, directed by Jenkins, produced by Steve Rivo, and written by Jenkins, Rivo, and Jason Pollard. It is executive produced by Peter Bittenbender and Jenkins for Mass Appeal, and Douglas Banker and Ty James.
Watch the trailer for Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James below: