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James' Death Drug Related

Funk legend's autopsy reveals traces of nine drugs

September 17, 2004 12:00 AM ET
Toxicology tests revealed traces of drugs in funk legend Rick James' system.

The fifty-six-year-old artist's August 6th death by heart attack was initially attributed to "natural causes" by the family, but the Los Angeles County coroner has concluded that a combination of nine drugs likely contributed to James' death. The substances discovered include cocaine, methamphetamine, painkiller Vicodin, and anti-depressants Xanax and Wellbutrin.

James, the funk artist best known for his 1981 hit "Super Freak," had struggled with a crack addiction for years, leading to two years in a California prison for assault in 1993. Before his death, James had claimed to have been sober since his release.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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