Before Fame, Rick James Had Risky, Illegal Career That Made Many Say, ‘Wait…What?’

Posted On : October 10, 2021
Rick James

Well ladies and gentleman, there is one thing we can probably all agree on – that there was never a dull moment in the life of the great Rick James.

What he revealed in his autobiography, Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James, was that he and another fellow soul singer became pimps when their money flow was kind of low from their aspiring music careers. Read what the late “Super Freak” hitmaker wrote about his pimpin’ days, and see who the other soul singer was below…

Rick James Detailed His Pimpin’ Career With Singer, Jimmy Ruffin

Rick James: I became close with singer Jimmy Ruffin. Jimmy was the brother of the late David Ruffin (original lead singer of the Temptations), with whom I had a strong friendship with in later years.

Jimmy had a huge success with a record called “Broken Hearted.” He was originally approached about being the lead singer of the Temptations but he rejected the offer and turned his brother David onto the gig.

When I was staying at the Lee Plaza, I met this cute white girl from Toronto. We became very intimate. She stayed at the Lee Plaza with another girl, who was seeing Jimmy at the time. The four of us became best of friends. Jimmy was married at the time with kids, so his affair was very discreet.

Jimmy Ruffin

Rick James continued:

One day, Jimmy told me his girl wanted to go work for him and he asked me, how would I like it if my girl worked too. That way, we could pimp them together.

Well, I knew nothing about pimping and I don’t think Jimmy did either. We took the girls to Canada where they worked. We made good money, but I thought the whole experience was too inhumane for me. I had feelings for her, and the idea of her selling her body was not what I wanted.

Near the end of my short stint as a pimp, I had three or four women working for me, and it was strenuous. Pimping is a 24/7 job, and in my mind I was going to be a big star and make more money than all these women put together.

I put an end to the experience quick and vowed never to pimp again.

After this pimping episode, I cut Jimmy loose and hardly ever saw him again. I think he knew that the lifestyle wasn’t for me.

One thing about people like Rick James and Jimmy Ruffin – who are destined to be superstars – is that they will always find a way to ‘have their name in lights’ in whichever arena they’re in –regardless of if they used their superstardom for bad, or good. We see it all the time.

For example, how many times have we heard of the drug dealer who’s now jailed for being one of the biggest dope dealers in his region and folks say “it was absolutely horrible what he did to his community,” but that it’s also “really sad, because he could’ve been a great businessman, had he channeled the same energy into a legitimate business”? They’re all seen as “superstars” within their respective circles…no matter how twisted their route to getting what they perceive as superstardom may be.

So like I said, people who are destined for superstardom – bad or good – can either end up being a famous dope slanger, or the iconic Harriet Tubman, who is forever an immortalized hero for freeing over 400 slaves, just sayin.’

Harriet Tubman


Rick James and his friend, Jimmy Ruffin, were clearly searching for their superstardom spotlight when they were attempting to make a name for themselves in pimping, but they were obviously misguided along their journey. I’m glad “Mr. Cold Blooded” realized that lifestyle wasn’t for him early on, or else we probably would have never gotten classics like these…

And this…

-ILoveOldSchoolMusic, Old School news with a new point of view