Born James Johnson Jr., the third oldest child in a family of eight in Buffalo, N.Y., on February 1, 1948, Rick James is credited with establishing the "punk-funk" style.

An early 80s icon of rebelling against the establishment, Rick James started early by joining the navy at age fifteen and going AWOL soon after.

He fled to Canada, and it was there, in Toronto, that he founded his first group, the Mynah Birds.

Other members of the group included Neil Young and Bruce Palmer (who later formed Buffalo Springfield), and Goldie McJohn (who later joined Steppenwolf).

It was at this point that he became known as Rick James.