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Richard Pryor

The most groundbreaking and daring comic talent since the heyday of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor was also the most controversial. Like Dick Gregory before him, Pryor explored issues of racial inequity with great insight and depth, tackling taboo topics that mainstream white America would have preferred swept permanently under the rug. But while Gregory used the standup stage as a pulpit to preach messages of peace, equality, and social change, Pryor seethed with bitterness and anger; his was the foul-mouthed voice of the growing Black Power movement, uncompromisingly decrying the continued oppression of the conservative establishment while reporting on the African-American experience -- warts and all -- with honesty and conviction.

Richard Pryor was born December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois. His early life was confusing and difficult; raised in the brothel owned by his grandmother, Pryor's mother was herself a prostitute, and his father was a pimp. Living in the worst slum in the Peoria area, he often found himself the target of gang violence; his sense of humor was his only defense mechanism, and Pryor soon developed a reputation as a class cut-up. By the age of 14, he was performing with a local amateur dramatic group, and in 1964 he relocated to New York City to pursue a career in standup. At the outset of his career, Pryor struggled to find his own voice: on his self-titled 1968 debut, he slavishly imitated the rhythms and themes of Bill Cosby on routines like "Adam and Eve" and the nostalgic "Girls," and only a bit about a black superhero -- dubbed "Supernigger" -- offered any hint of things to come.

Pryor continued performing safe, toothless comedy for another couple of years, but during a 1970 Las Vegas appearance he snapped; in the middle of the routine, he rhetorically asked, "What am I doing here?" and walked offstage, effectively going underground and playing only small black clubs for much of the early part of the decade. This period, along with his late-'60s work, served as the basis for an onslaught of LPs issued by the Laff label throughout the 1970s; while a part of his official discography, the material found on albums like 1977's Are You Serious???, 1978's Black Ben the Blacksmith, and 1980's Insane was already many years old by the time of the records' release. Not surprisingly, Pryor later disowned the albums.

By the time Pryor resurfaced in 1974 with the Top 40 hit That N**ger's Crazy, he was a changed man; no longer did mainstream concerns force him to suppress his bitterness toward the white establishment -- now he took on issues of racism with fire-breathing intensity, regardless of the consequences. Much to the surprise of many pundits, however, Pryor's career soared -- black audiences adored him, of course, but liberal white audiences lined up for his concert appearances as well. 1975's Is It Something I Said? fell just shy of the Top Ten on the strength of routines like "When Your Woman Leaves You," a poignant assessment of Pryor's well-publicized series of marriages and divorces, while the centerpiece of 1976's Bicentennial N**ger explored two centuries of white oppression with incendiary fury. Major roles in a pair of 1977 features, Silver Streak and Greased Lightning, preceded the debut of The Richard Pryor Show, a variety series for NBC; from the program's inception, he and the network battled constantly over the show's perceived "bad taste," and its run lasted only five weeks.

Pryor's life was spinning rapidly out of control; while still smarting from the NBC debacle, he made headlines that New Year's Eve for drunkenly shooting up his wife's car. The incident became the basis of his opening routine for 1978's Wanted: Live in Concert, an ambitious two-record set that led to the 1979 feature Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, a highly successful film document of his stage act. As his career again looked on the upswing, however, tragedy struck: in June 1980 Pryor nearly burned to death, a mishap variously attributed to a freebasing accident and a misguided attempt at suicide. A long recovery period followed, as he struggled both to kick his longtime drug habit and rediscover his creative energies; a trip to Africa ultimately renewed him spiritually, and he returned to America a new man, one who declared he would never use the word "n**ger" again.

It was a wiser, more mature Pryor who resurfaced in 1982 with the film and album Live on the Sunset Strip, in which he discussed both his brush with death and his odyssey to Africa. His humor turned gentler and more introspective, and while his standup retained its edge, his career as a film actor suffered through lightweight, pedestrian comedies like The Toy, Brewster's Millions, and Critical Condition. 1983's Here and Now was his final concert film and album; three years later, Pryor was struck with multiple sclerosis, effectively ending his career as a standup performer. He appeared in a few more film roles before the disease began to cripple him; following 1991's dismal Another You, he largely disappeared from sight. Finally, in 1997 a wheelchair-bound Pryor made a brief appearance in David Lynch's Lost Highway. An autobiography, Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences, was published in 1995. Five years later, Rhino addressed the sad state of Pryor's back catalog with the release of ...And It's Deep, Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992). The critical and commercial success of the box set later prompted Rhino to release The Richard Pryor Anthology: 1968-1992 (a two-CD compilation of highlights from ...And It's Deep, Too!), and Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974) (another double-disc set that gathered much of the stray material used to compile the albums released by Laff).

Pryor passed away on December 10, 2005, finally succumbing to his long bout with multiple sclerosis. He suffered a heart attack and died in a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 65. He was widely commemorated as an iconoclastic comedian who transcended barriers of race and opened the door for such followers as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, and Dave Chappelle. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: No Pryor Restraint: Life In Concert

Disc 1

16. Army Life

Disc 2

2. F**k From Memory

5. A**-Hole

6. The Line Up

8. Black Preachers

15. Dope

16. Wino Panthers

29. N**ger With A Seizure

30. Have Your A** Home By 11:00

32. Exorcist

33. Wino Dealing With Dracula

Disc 3

1. N**gers Vs. The Police

3. Wino & Junkie

12. The Goodnight Kiss

14. Our Text For Today

Disc 4

4. Bicentennial Prayer

9. Acid

10. Bicentennial N**ger

12. New Year's Eve

Disc 5

4. Monkeys

7. Being Sensitive

Disc 6

6. Freebase

7. Hospital

Disc 7

3. I Like Women

5. M.S.

Disc 8
Disc 9
x

Track List: Evolution Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974)

Disc 1

3. Heart & Brain

7. Slippin' In Poo Poo

12. I Feel

13. Jail

15. Directions

18. The Army

19. Hippy Dippys

20. Hank's Place

22. Mankind

Disc 2

2. Gettin' High

3. F**k From Memory

4. Big Tits

5. Gettin' Some

6. The President

7. A**-Hole

8. The Line-Up

9. Masturbating

10. Religion

11. Black Preachers

12. Being Born

13. Blow Our Image

14. Blackjack

15. I Spy Cops

16. Sugar Ray

17. White Folks

18. Indians

19. A** Wupin'

20. Got A Dollar

22. Dope

23. Wino Panthers

24. After Hours

25. 280 Pound A**

26. Crap Game

27. Insurance Man

28. Black And Proud

29. Gettin' The Nut

30. F**k The F**got

31. Jackin' Off

32. Snappin' P**sy

33. Fartin'

x

Track List: The Anthology 1968 - 1992

Disc 1

1. Super N**ger

2. Prison Play

3. N**ger With A Seizure

4. Have Your A** Home By 11:00

5. Black & White Life Styles

6. Exorcist

7. N**gers Vs. The Police

8. Wino Dealing With Dracula

9. Wino & Junkie

10. Mudbone: Intro

11. Mudbone: Little Feets

12. When Your Woman Leaves You

13. Cocaine

14. Acid

15. Bicentennial Prayer

16. Bicentennial N**ger

Disc 2

1. New Year's Eve

2. Discipline

3. Heart Attacks

4. Monkeys

5. Being Sensitive

6. Africa

7. Freebase

8. Hospital

x

Track List: The Wizard

1. Touch Yourself

2. Kinky Hair

3. Hank's Place

4. Black Irma

5. The Weasel

8. Churches

9. Sweet Songs

10. White Protestants

11. Heart & Brain

13. Worms

14. Country & Western Show

15. Swagger Stick

16. Japanese Movies

x

Track List: Who Me? I'm Not Him

1. You're A Trick

2. Slippin' In Poo Poo

3. I'm A Negro

4. Negro Judge

5. Chain Gang

6. Hippy Dippys

7. Weasle

8. Directions

9. Blue Eyed Devil

10. Religion

11. Super N**ger

12. Passin' Gas

13. Colored Folks

14. Army

15. War

16. Git A Little

17. Tarzan

18. Birth Controll Pill

19. Dracula

20. Frankenstein

x

Track List: Craps

1. Gettin' High

3. Big Tits

4. Gettin' Some

10. Religion

12. Being Born

13. Blow Our Image

14. Blackjack

15. I Spy Cops

16. Sugar Ray

17. White Folks

18. Indians

19. A** Wupin'

20. Got A Dollar

23. After Hours

24. 280 Pound A**

25. Crap Game

26. Insurance Man

27. Black And Proud

28. Gettin' The Nut

29. Jackin' Off

30. Snappin' P**sy

31. Fartin'

x

Track List: Super N**ger (Explicit)

1. I Feel

2. Super N**ger

3. Girls

4. The Bully

5. Fighting

6. Fathers

7. Churches

8. God Was A Junkie

9. Boxing

10. Black Bag

11. Break My Face

12. Saturday Night

13. Cold Blood & Smoove

14. Torsy

x

Track List: Live On The Sunset Strip

x

Track List: Black Ben The Blacksmith (Explicit)

1. Black Ben The Blacksmith

2. I Feel

3. Fighting

5. Dark Person

6. Nigroes

7. Black Nationalist

8. Unemployment Line

9. Cops And Fathers

10. Folsom Prison

x

Track List: Are You Serious (Explicit)

1. Intro

2. Bowl Of Cherries

3. N**ger Baby's

4. Processed Hair

5. Virgins

6. Rubber Things

7. Pound Pill

8. Jesse

9. Movies

10. Mafia

11. Kill Class

12. Hillbillies

13. Grandmother

14. Leroy

15. Bad Breath

16. Deodorant

17. Being Born

18. Mankind

x

Track List: Is It Something I Said? (Explicit)

1. Eulogy

2. Shortage Of White People

3. New N**gers

4. Cocaine

5. Just Us

6. Mudbone: Intro

7. Mudbone: Little Feets

8. When Your Woman Leaves You

9. The Goodnight Kiss

10. Women Are Beautiful

11. Our Text For Today

x

Track List: Holy Smoke!

1. Lovers Quarrel

2. N**ger Baby

3. World Situation

4. Rhythm

5. Chick A Chick A Boom Boom

6. Sick

7. Chairs

8. Talk Show

9. Man On The Run

10. Negro Slave

x

Track List: Insane

1. Physical Fitness

2. Kill Type Teenager

3. Weightlifter

4. Churches

5. Masturbating

6. New York City

7. Nudie Movies

8. Chicago

9. Did Ya Hear The One About

10. In The Army

11. He-She

12. Oh My Darlin, Clementine

13. Hunting Bear

14. Ku Klux Klan

15. Bible Belt

x

Track List: Outrageous

1. The Operation

2. Throw Up

3. Improvisation

4. Looters

5. Bathroom

6. White Chicks

7. True Story Of J.C.

8. I Feel

9. Fighting

10. Jail

11. Hi Way 16

12. Moses

13. Heart & Brain

x

Track List: Rev. Du Rite

1. Dance

2. Hilly Billy

3. My Old Man

4. Rev. Du Rite

5. Pay Toilet

6. Boobs

7. Acapella

8. Bed Springs

9. Ophedius

10. News Casters

11. Jealous Husband

x

Track List: Richard Pryor

1. Super N**ger

2. Girls

3. F*rting

4. Prison Play

5. T.V. Panel Show

6. Smells

7. Army Life

8. Frankenstein

Comments

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Told US the truth about drugs. Changed your forever. We got to do better. Thanks...... . . . . . . . .
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You set the bar and no one can't touch it. Thanks...... .
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Simply the "BEST"! Out of the state of -Illinois. Enough said.
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Sad but true most honest craziest nigro on the planet, this motherf**ker started a whole line of crazy's
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bfoster511
Heidi
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Long Live the King of Comedy!!!, even after death there's none that can touch his Throne
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Greatest of all time!!!!!!
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trujesus
Check out Pryor's documentary on Netflix ��✌️
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The greatest
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He is a legend of comedy, many just think of his struggle with addiction, those need to look at his work, in a way we all struggle with some type of addiction it doesn't have to be drugs, he was very good at what he done.
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Nice
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RayRay, Richard Pryor's struggles with cocaine occurred before crack was available. Also, if you read the bio you would know that he died of complication s from multiple sclerosis-19 years after contracting it so if he was destroyed by crack cocaine it took 19 years and a bad case of MS to do him in, somehow I think he probably was not smoking crack in his twilight years or crack is not as bad as we thought...
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He was the greatest.nob o d y can compair!
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Here's the icon.
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Oya I went through that when I was 10,11,12,13.
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The best,im from Peoria too. RIP
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Braxton
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The KING!!!
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Lmao..... i miss real comedians... r i p richard Pryor...
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Eddie had his run. He had, and still has influence, and is wildly successful in the industry. As far as I'm concerned, he could never even sit at the table with "Rich the Great!"
His whole get down, nuance, cadence flow, timing, and style was a slightly refined version of Rich's. He(Eddie), never experienced the dark side, hardships, dysfunctiona l upbringing, and insanity first hand. Rich realized the tight rope that he was embarking on, was a place very few, if any, would dare go. Which represe
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Richard Pryor #TheGOAT.... . . a true legend.....
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Chris
46yrs in my life: Richard Pryor will always be #1
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One of the best, a father too comedy, he opened doors to great comedy. When he performed I was all ears (on tape of course) wish I could have met this man. R.I.P.
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A funny troubled man. RIP Richard.
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Richard was great! Yes,he is from the great state of " Illinois ". Again the state produced the world very BEST! Pryor so funny and spoke the truth. Go !
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My personal favorite comedian of all time funny
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zehredness
Did water in a comedy club actually cost that much back then? I hope the joke was about the price too.
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Classic.
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One Of the greatest ever!!! #Duval904 #GhostRyders
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Richard Pryor is awesome
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To me! Richard passed it to Eddie Murphy!- He dont do "Stand Up now!- But Eddie proved himself over 30.years ago!!!!-And Continually REPRESENTING ! - L o v e Him!- Eddie is King!!
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Alot of people thought he just threw out things in the Universe! Not True!- Intelligent Man!-To Me Eddie Murphy was "The MAN!
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G.O.A.T.!!!!
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ci
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I never knew he went through so much but I'm so grateful for him , he is the man.
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Funny dude
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Only one Richard Pryor. Love you, because you told the truth. RIP........
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Groundbreaki n g , genius, movie star, destroyed by crack-cocain e
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Post
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However If you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it works!
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King
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Best n����ga ever
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Great!!!!!!! !
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Rest in peace Richard Pryor
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RIP Lmaooo funniest n**ga ever
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The Michael Jordan of comedy.
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Number 1
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jzon525
Absolutely thee best!
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The greatest ever todo it its jus natural fr Richard these guys today suck
Show more

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