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Rick James’ cause of death uncertain

An autopsy Saturday failed to determine the cause of death for funk legend Rick James, authorities said. James, 56, who died in his sleep Friday at his home,  was a diabetic and also had a pacemaker.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An autopsy failed to determine the cause of death for funk legend Rick James, authorities said. James, 56, died in his sleep Friday at his home near Universal City. The singer was a diabetic and also had a pacemaker. He suffered a stroke in 1998.

His three children — daughter Ty and sons Rick Jr. and Tazman — said Friday through a spokeswoman that they believe their father died of heart failure.

James had a history of cocaine addiction that led him to two assault convictions in the 1990s and a two-year stretch in prison.

Officials are awaiting results of a toxicology test, which could take several weeks, said Lt. David Smith, supervising investigator of the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Funeral services were announced for the singer. A public viewing will be held Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills. A memorial service will be held there at 11 a.m. Thursday.

“Rick wanted everyone who loved him to be with him at the end and to celebrate his life,” said Sujata Murthy, his record label’s spokeswoman.

James's career peaked in 1981 with "Super Freak," a song so enduring that a strain of its infectious bass line powered the MC Hammer hit "U Can't Touch This" nearly a decade later.

The song earned the Grammy for best R&B song in 1990 for both Hammer and James.

James had enjoyed a bit of a revival recently, in part because of comedian Dave Chappelle portraying him as violent and arrogant on his "Chappelle's Show." James himself appeared on the Comedy Central show.