Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Pays Tribute to Rick James

Each year millions of visitors come from every corner of the globe to see the thundering majesty that is Niagara Falls. Many of those visitors also make a stop just outside the Niagara Falls State Park to visit another of the world’s iconic venues – The Hard Rock Cafe.

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While every Hard Rock Cafe is special in its own way, the Cafe located in Niagara Falls, New York holds a distinct honour -it is the only Hard Rock Cafe that has a room dedicated solely to the musicians of the area. Inside the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls, New York is the Buffalo room where visitors will find memorabilia from the members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

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Marking the fourth anniversary of the Buffalo room, members of the BMHOF gathered with special guests to dedicate a new piece of memorabilia from not only a Buffalo native, but a star who took the world by storm with his pioneering funkadelic rock – Rick James.

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On hand to commemorate the event was the Hard Rock Cafe’s own Justin Rizzo, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Vice President Tom Lorentz, BMHOF Program Director Rick Sargent, Rick James’ brother LeRoy Johnson, Rick James guitar player Alyn Syms, BMHOF member Jesse Galante, and Buffalo area musician and teacher Van Taylor.

Rick James Jumpsuit  BMHOF 1Justin Rizzo

In the hour long event, guests spoke on Rick James and hos impact on the area, not just as a musician, but also as a person. Tom Lorentz noted that James made it, “a Buffalo thing” – not just making his home in the area, but influencing and helping area musicians.

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Rick James’ brother LeRoy Johnson also remarked on how his brother was for and about Buffalo – including the songs – and that James had an impact on many area musicians. Johnson also remarked on the new piece on display – a blue jumpsuit worn on tour – was not as flamboyant as Rick James could get.

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Rick Sargent also noted that Rick James was an important part of the Buffalo music scene.

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Van Taylor, who worked with James on the music, noted how Rick James’ dedication and determination to the work and what he was doing stood out.

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Guitar player Alyn Syms remarked on how working with Rick James made him, “the first white boy on the block to appear on ‘Soul Train’.” Syms also said that one thing he learned from Rick James was on how to dress on stage. James said, “dress any way you want, just don’t look like an English teacher.”

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Later this year the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and the Hard Rock Cafe will hold a big celebration to honour Rick James’ jumpsuit as an addition to the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame’s Buffalo room.


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