TIR 129: Rick James’ Manager/Brother LeRoi Johnson Fires It Up (Parts 1 & 2)

LeRoi Johnson shown front, second from left, with Rick James standing behind him (far left) among members of the Mary Jane Girls, Process and the Doo Rags and others from the camp. Photos (C) LeRoi C. Johnson, used with permission.


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott “DR GX” Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 129 (Parts 1 and 2): LeRoi Johnson, who is the only surviving full brother of the king of Punk Funk himself, Rick James. Johnson had a front-row seat not only for Slick Rick’s childhood and musical development, but also for his ascension to funk, soul and pop crossover superstardom. And as James scored his biggest triumph with 1981’s platinum-selling Street Songs album, Johnson joined in to manage his brother’s business affairs throughout the decade. That comprised acting as tour manager and overseeing Mary Jane Productions and its stable of acts including the Mary Jane Girls, Process and the Doo Rags, The Stone City Band and Val Young.

While James overshadowed his brother in terms of fame, both were blessed with special talents. Johnson holds a law degree and is an accomplished classical guitarist and visual artist. In 2019, Johnson received hometown honors by being inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

Here, Johnson frankly seeks to set the record straight on a number of misperceptions and untruths that have been perpetrated about James through the years, and reassert his genius as one of the top artists and performers of his time.