Watch The Trailer For Showtime’s New Rick James Documentary
We’ve been getting an overwhelming number of music documentaries lately, and they’re usually fascinating even when they’re not that good. Now, we’re about to get another doc on a particularly thorny subject. Next month, Showtime will air its new film about the troubled funk auteur Rick James.
These days, it’s possible that Rick James is better-known as a Dave Chappelle character than as a musician, but that man had a wild ride. After fleeing the draft and moving to Toronto, Buffalo native James played in a Motown-signed ’60s rock band with a young Neil Young. He escaped a naval brig and got too hungover to go to the party at Sharon Tate’s house that became the Manson Family’s massacre.
James became a massive star in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and his flamboyant style may have helped pave the way for his former opening act Prince to explode. He mentored Teena Marie and produced a #2 hit for Eddie Murphy. He was also a violent and erratic drug addict, and he spent five years in prison for kidnapping and sexual assault. He died in 2004 at the age of 56, shortly after Dave Chappelle had once again made him a household name.
James’ life story is certainly a movie, but it’ll be hard to walk the line between glorifying the man’s work and properly depicting the terrible things that he did. The Showtime doc Bitchin’: The Sound And Fury Of Rick James has a great director: Sacha Jenkins, the former music writer who made the great Wu-Tang Clan series Of Mics And Men for the network in 2019. In the trailer, we get little glimpses of how the doc will treat James’ music and his various demons, and it has talking-head appearances from people like Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, and Bootsy Collins. Check it out below.
Bitchin’: The Sound And Fury Of Rick James airs on Showtime 9/3.