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Interview with Rick James

Aired November 21, 2003 - 13:50   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Jackson is not the first musical megastar to face a sexual scandal that has threatened to tear apart his life and career. Singer Rick James found himself in a bit of legal trouble during the 1990s. But today, Rick is performing again for fans, selling out across the country, after overcoming his past. Can Michael Jackson do the same? Rick James, the man who brought funk to the forefront joins us now live from Los Angeles.
How you doing, Rick?

RICK JAMES, SINGER: Wonderful, wonderful.

PHILLIPS: Well, look, you and I...

JAMES: Beautiful.

PHILLIPS: You're looking good. Now, you and I were talking yesterday, we were talking a little bit this morning. You're in support of Michael Jackson. Tell me why.

JAMES: Because I love him. I think he's fantastic. I love his whole family. I've been knowing Michael since he was a kid. I've know his whole family. I know his mother. I know his father. I know the brothers. I know the sisters. And I have nothing but complete love, and respect and admiration for the whole family.

PHILLIPS: So, Rick, why do you think authorities are going after Michael Jackson?

JAMES: Because he's black, he's rich and he's famous, and they got nothing else better to do.

PHILLIPS: Has Michael ever talked openly with you about his relationship with children, or his love for children, or even Neverland?

JAMES: Look, Michael loves children, OK? I mean, to be -- I mean, I look at it like this. I mean, all this pedophile crap, you know, why didn't they go after Elvis Presley? He was the biggest pedophile at all. He had Priscilla when she was 14, 15. Why didn't they go after Jerry Lee Lewis. He the second biggest pedophile of all. He married his first cousin. She was 13 years old. Why don't they go after Santa Claus? Why don't they do psychology references on him? They don't know who he is. He's 100,000 different cities and kids sit on his lap, telling him what they want for Christmas.

PHILLIPS: I don't know, Rick, i've sat on Santa Claus' lap, i've never had any issues with Santa Claus.

JAMES: But never mind, Santa Claus, what about Elvis? They didn't do anything to him. He had Priscilla when she was 14, 15 years old. Nobody said a damn thing. Then as soon as you get famous and black, they go after you.

PHILLIPS: Well, let me ask you, let me ask you, you know the documentary that came out, OK, on BBC with Michael Jackson. He talked openly about, hey, I love children, we sleep in the same bed, it's nothing sexual, I just love them and like to take care of them. Is there anything wrong with that? Do you see anything wrong with that?

JAMES: There ain't nothing wrong with that. Look, I have a house, 8,000 square feet. I have children come by. I have grandchildren. They come by and they bring their friends. They sleep in my room. I got a great big giant bedroom. They watch TV. They lay on the floor. Sometimes I wake up, kids are laying in my bed because they're scared or something, whatever. I have candles going. What, what does that make me, a pedophile, because kids follow my bed, fall to sleep, whatever? I love kids. I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pedophile as Larry King. I mean, come on now.

PHILLIPS: All right, so have you ever talked with Michael? Have you ever consulted him? Has he ever come to you for advice?

JAMES: Why should I talk to Michael about something that's so ridiculous? I mean, it's ridiculous. What should I say to Michael? Well, Mike, tell me something, how's pedophile-ization going? Is it in, or is it out? I mean, it's ridiculous. It's so stupid.

PHILLIPS: All right, Rick, let's talk about his future. Let's talk about you right now. You went through...

JAMES: Wait a minute. I just got one more thing to say.

PHILLIPS: OK, go ahead, go ahead.

JAMES: I think this D.A. in Santa Barbara, I think he had a serious hard-on for Michael, and I think he won't rest until he just rocks Michael's world. Well, you know something, it's never going to happen. These accusations are clearly lies. These accusations are lies, they're untrue, and it's not going to happen. Michael's world will not be rocked. Because as soon as court hits -- if Michael's guilty of anything, it's the Peter Pan syndrome, the same thing I'm guilty of, the same thing you're probably guilty of, the same thing a lot of people are guilty of. We do not want to grow up. We do not want to get old. We love children. We will do anything for children. If it means building -- I wish I could have Never Neverland. I'd have children there every day.

PHILLIPS: So you see -- how do you see Michael's future? You were convicted back in the '90s and you are back on track with your career. If, indeed, Michael faces a conviction here, how do you see his future?

JAMES: I don't even see him -- No. 1, it's too hypothetical -- it's too ridiculous -- it's too much of a hypothetical situation. I don't see him convicted in anything like this. I mean, he loves children. He loves children. Look at all he's done for children. Look at what he's done. He's changed the world for children. God doesn't bless someone like Michael Jackson who changes the world for children. He has given children a better day. He's given children a better light. He's given children smiles on their faces. He's given children hope. Do you think God would bless a pedophile with something like that?

PHILLIPS: Rick James, good friends with the Jackson family, good friends with Michael, coming on today, talking openly and honestly.

Your career still moving along. Your next concert in Baltimore. You're coming out a 25th anniversary CD. Also...

JAMES: Twenty-fifth anniversary CD and a book called...

PHILLIPS: And a book.

JAMES: ... called "Confessions a Superfreak." And if you really want to learn about freakism, you'll buy this book. It ain't got nothing to do with pedophiles. It's got a lot to do with some sexuality and some other stuff that you need to know about.

PHILLIPS: Well, Rick, you do continue to be a super freak, and thanks for giving us a super interview.

JAMES: I will be a super freak, and it ain't got nothing to do with children or nothing, just like Michael Jackson has nothing to do with children. It has to do with L-O-V-E -- love.

PHILLIPS: L-O-V-E -- love. All right, Rick, peace.

JAMES: Peace all you, Girl.

You read the book, Kyra, because I want you to read it especially.

PHILLIPS: You got a deal.


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