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Pop Singer Arrested on Torture, Drug Charges : Violence: Grammy-winner Rick James and a girlfriend are accused of imprisoning a woman at his Mulholland Drive home.

August 03, 1991|AARON CURTISS and JACK CHEEVERS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Singer Rick James, the Grammy-winning King of Funk of the 1980s, was arrested with his 21-year-old girlfriend Friday for allegedly imprisoning and torturing a 24-year-old woman with a hot cocaine pipe over three days at James' Hollywood Hills home, police said.

James, 43, who with Prince spearheaded the '80s merger of funk and rock music, was held in lieu of $1-million bail at the North Hollywood Division jail of the Los Angeles Police Department after he was arrested Friday morning at home with his girlfriend, Tanya Anne Hijazi. Hijazi was held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the women's jail in Van Nuys.

James and Hijazi were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, forced oral copulation, making terrorist threats and furnishing narcotics, police said.

The singer and his girlfriend met the unidentified victim, who apparently was unemployed, at a party and offered to put her up at their house, police said.

On July 16, James threatened the victim with a gun, telling her he would kill her if she tried to leave, officers said. He and Hijazi allegedly tied the woman up and severely burned her about 20 times with the hot end of a crack cocaine pipe.

That night and early on July 17, James forced the victim to orally copulate Hijazi while he watched, police said. Officers said that throughout the ordeal, James and Hijazi smoked crack cocaine and intermittently forced the victim to smoke it too.

Los Angeles Police Detective Dennis Cicioni said the victim was released by James and Hijazi on July 18. She went to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where her injuries led hospital workers to notify police. She was released after treatment, officers said.

James, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., is best known for "Super Freak," a taut, sexually charged dance number that broke into the national Top 20 in 1981.

The song's distinctive bass line was adopted by rapper M.C. Hammer as the basis for last year's smash "U Can't Touch This" single. James, listed as co-writer on the song, won a Grammy in February when "U Can't Touch This" was named best rhythm and blues song of 1990.

James began his music career in the mid-'60s in Toronto, where he and then-unknown Neil Young formed a rock band called the Mynah Birds. After the group split up, James moved to Detroit and joined Motown Records as a staff writer-producer.

In 1979, Motown released James' debut album, a collection that featured a song, "You and I," which reached No. 13 on the national pop charts. The album "Come Get It!" was the first of four gold records--signifying at least 500,000 copies sold--that James recorded for Motown. His biggest album, 1981's "Street Songs," sold more than 1 million copies.

In addition to his own recordings, James produced hits for the Mary Jane Girls, Teena Marie and actor Eddie Murphy. James left Motown in the late '80s to sign with Warner Bros. Records, where his album "Wonderful" failed to restore him as a potent chart force in 1988.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. said James' last album was released two years ago, and his contract with the company was dropped earlier this summer. The spokesman, who asked not to be identified, had no comment on the arrest. James and Hijazi could not be reached for comment Friday.

Neighbors said the couple has lived in their gated home in the 8100 block of Mulholland Terrace, in the Hollywood Hills above Studio City just off Laurel Canyon Boulevard, for less than six months. They said the couple frequently gave parties.

Times staff writer Michael Connelly and free-lance writer Steve Hochman contributed to this report.

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