Twenty-five years ago today, Rick James and his girlfriend Tanya Hijazi were arrested in Hollywood.

James was tried for two separate incidents, and the testimony in both cases was damning: Frances Alley, the 24-year-old woman who pressed charges in James’ initial arrest, claimed that the singer and Hijazi kept her prisoner in his Hollywood Hills estate for two days. During that time, Alley alleged he burned her legs and abdomen with a crack pipe. Another woman – Mary Sauger, a music executive who was taking a business meeting with James and Hijazi – claimed that about a year after his first arrest, the couple beat her and held her prisoner for 20 hours in a West Hollywood hotel room.

Of course, James would later joke about this incident and other outrages from his life by saying “Cocaine is a hell of drug.” He no doubt suffered from some horrible addictions which is no laughing matter. He died in 2004 with a veritable pharmacy coursing through his veins.

He was a heck of a musician, though, even if he is mostly remembered for just his hit, Super Freak.

Maybe you remember his ode to weed, Mary Jane.

I’ll admit that the skits he did on The Dave Chapelle Show were very funny, but I think they just encouraged people to see drug and alcohol addiction as something to mock.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at