Post by Diamond Girl on Aug 7, 2006 22:53:54 GMT -5
Rick James' last lyrics
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gravestone shows a different side of funk star known for his wild streak
By PATRICK LAKAMP News Staff Reporter 8/6/2006 Charles Lewis/Buffalo News
Rick James' older brother Carmen Sims, left, stands with family friend Ron Fleming at the funk icon's gravestone in Forest Lawn. Sims said he anticipates seeing fans at the burial plot.
The music of Rick James left an impression that spans generations. So will his gravestone.
A black granite monument that marks the funk legend's burial spot was erected Tuesday in Forest Lawn, in time for the second anniversary of his death today.
Fans won't see an extravagant gravestone to match James' swaggering, outrageous lifestyle.
Instead, an etching of the Buffalo-born singer's portrait shows him in a relaxed pose in the tight leather pants and jacket he liked to wear and with his guitar.
"He's relaxed in that picture. I like that," said older brother Carmen Sims, who visited James' plot Saturday.
The etching comes from a photo taken for his 1981 hit album "Street Songs," which included "Give It to Me Baby" and "Super Freak." The album sold 3 million copies and propelled him to superstar status.
James was in his early 30s when the photo was taken.
The monument for James Ambrose Johnson Jr. stands 4 feet 9 inches high and has a base that's 4 feet wide. His ashes are interred at the site. The monument weighs two tons, the biggest the cemetery allows for a four-plot site.
Under his portrait are lyrics to an unreleased song:
"I'VE HAD IT ALL
I'VE DONE IT ALL
I'VE SEEN IT ALL
IT'S ALL ABOUT LOVE . . .
GOD IS LOVE."
That's a far cry from the "Super Freak" lyrics about "a very kinky girl, the kind you don't take home to mother."
James' daughter Ty picked the portrait and words, said Molly Amigone of Amigone Funeral Home, who runs the company's monuments division.
The daughter sifted through hundreds photos before selecting the one for the monument.
"Tasteful. Simple. Nice. That's how Ty wanted it," Amigone said.
Sims, a community residence manager at Ivy House for Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services, watched a crew erect the monument Tuesday.
"I hadn't seen the words before," he said. "I thought they were beautiful."
James' plot is in a section of the cemetery near the Delaware Avenue S-curve, and it's close to Scajaquada Creek.
"All leather," Sims said of the etching. "He was into the leather."
Amigone described the monument as a jet-black half-serpentine granite monument with a polished surface and beveled edges. The monument, made in Barre, Vt., cost $13,000.
Sims has regularly visited his mother's grave in another part of Forest Lawn since her death in 1991, and he will stop by his brother's monument. He anticipates seeing fans at the burial plot.
Since Rick James died, fans have wanted to see his headstone, even calling the cemetery office asking when it would be erected, Sims said.
Sims supervised security for his rock-star brother for a decade, and he saw firsthand the connection he had with fans.
"I don't think it will bother me," he said of seeing fans at the grave site. "They love my brother. They're showing love."
In an interview before he died, James talked to a reporter for the Detroit News about his past drug use.
"We would eat dinner and do cocaine," James told the newspaper. "We didn't know anything about the Betty Ford Clinic then. The biggest mistake I made is that I tried to become my alter ego. I wanted to be Rick James, wild man, party machine, lady slayer, and the cocaine told me I could. I forgot that I was James Johnson, a nerdy kid who grew up reading "Dante's Inferno' on Saturday nights."
Sims said the monument reveals a softer side of his brother.