Rick James' Release From Hospital Delayed

Funk icon, recovering from stroke, to undergo further tests before being put under home care.

Funk icon Rick James, who was originally scheduled to be discharged from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Friday after suffering a paralyzing stroke last month, will remain at the hospital longer than expected to undergo blood tests.

"[James'] recovery is right on schedule," Steve Levesque, James' publicist at the Lee Solters Company, said Monday afternoon (Dec. 14). "His doctor just wanted to make sure he was in the best health possible before releasing him to home care."

James, 50, suffered the stroke Nov. 9 that left the entire right side of his body numb. The condition, which is expected to be temporary, resulted from a blood vessel breaking in the back of his neck during a Nov. 6 concert at the Mammoth Events Center in Denver.

James was able to finish the concert but collapsed upon coming offstage at the end of his show, according to Levesque. He was examined quickly by doctors, who discovered the broken blood vessel and advised James to return to Los Angeles for further medical examination.

On Nov. 9, James complained of numbness on his right side and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai. There, doctors determined that he had suffered a stroke that left him temporarily unable to walk, though he retained his recognition and comprehension skills.

Dr. William Young, who is supervising James' recovery, did not return calls for comment Monday but was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the delay was not completely unexpected and would be relatively short.

"He continues to progress well," Young told the AP. "He's been participating well in therapy and we would expect that his discharge will be imminent in the next several days."

It might be a while, however, before James hits the stage again. According to the American Heart Association's website, most improvements in a person's ability to function in the first 30 days after a stroke are due to spontaneous recovery. Further rehabilitation may be necessary, however, depending on the extent to which the brain is affected, the survivor's attitude, the rehabilitation team's skill and the cooperation of family and friends.

According to Levesque, James has a positive attitude about his condition. He has yet to officially cancel the dates he missed due to his stroke, preferring to leave them marked as postponed.

Although James began his career in music in 1963, the Buffalo, N.Y., native didn't come to prominence until he signed with Motown in 1978. His solo debut, Come and Get It, sold more than a million copies and launched a run of hits that included "You and I," which reached #1 on the R&B chart and #13 on the pop chart.

Other late-'70s James hits include "Mary Jane," "Bustin' Out," "Give It to Me Baby" and his signature song, "Super Freak."

He scored R&B hits in the mid-'80s with "17," "Cold Blooded" and a duet with Smokey Robinson, "Ebony Eyes." Then, in 1990, James reached the top of the pop chart when MC Hammer used a loop from "Super Freak" as the basis for his massive hit "U Can't Touch This." James sued Hammer over the unauthorized use of his song but settled out of court when Hammer gave him a songwriting credit.

The next year found James in criminal court after he and his girlfriend were accused of holding hostage and physically abusing a woman who refused to join them in group sex. James, who claimed the incident happened during a cocaine-fueled drug binge, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years in prison.

When James was released in 1996, he immediately began work on a new album. Urban Rhapsody was released in 1997 and included such songs as "Player's Way" (RealAudio excerpt) and "So Soft, So Wet."

In lieu of flowers and get-well cards, James has asked that donations be made to the Leukemia Foundation in the name of William "Head" Johnson, James' younger brother, who died of leukemia at the age of 44 the week before James' stroke.