When a police official told reporters that Rick James had a “natural death” on Friday morning, it was hard not to immediately think of his troubled past with substance abuse problems. An autopsy revealed nothing on Saturday, leaving his cause of death a mystery.
His three children said they believed he died of heart failure. Results from a toxicology test have yet to be determined. The coroner said it could be weeks.
The “Super Freak” singer had diabetes, a pacemaker, and a cocaine addiction, all of some of which could of lead to his death.
He seemed to be revitalizing his career in recent years, after spending time in jail. James recently worked with Kanye West, and also performed with Teena Marie at last month’s BET Awards. He received widespread recognition from comedian Dave Chappelle who imitated him, and his “I’m Rick James, bitch” catchphrase, on his Comedy Central show, which James was a guest star. Chappelle plans to star as James in an upcoming movie.
James also planned on releasing an album, but the status of that is now unclear.
James was 56 when he was found dead.