For ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 18 Music Issue, we persuaded 14 athletes to re-create some of the most memorable album covers. As part of our supplemental coverage on Playbook Sounds, we will be running behind-the-scenes interviews with each athlete, as well as their own personal playlists.
• Athlete: James Stewart, motocross racer
• As: Rick James on "Street Songs" (1981)
Moto X'er James Stewart has an alias, called “Rick” James Stewart. He has been known to make videos of himself and post them online, including this one, from 2008, which took off. Today he had the opportunity to take "Rick James Stewart" to a new level.
How did the nickname “Rick” James Stewart come about?
About four years ago, I came up with “Rick” James Stewart. It was me and my friend just messing around one night and we decided to bust out "Give It To Me Baby." We busted out wigs and the camera and just did a video. We put it online and people just loved it. It blew up and and people started calling me “Rick” James Stewart.
What do you like about Rick James?
The coolest thing about Rick James is that he has style. He also has women. And I look like him when I put a wig on. He's just cool and he was one of the originators, doing something different. He's a little out there but it's one of the cool parts I like about him.
How did this become such a phenomenon?
When I put the video online, it blew up. I gained a lot of fans from it. And being in racing, it's always super-serious, so when I did that, it changed a bit. It's nice to see the fans react to me in a different way. To see how laid-back I was, having a good time with it. When I went to Paris, every time I went to race they were playing Rick James and it's nice to see.
Most of my fans call me “Bubba” but they sometimes call me Rick James too, and many fans ask me when I'm going to bust it out again. So this ESPN shoot will bring him back and bring it to a whole new level.
What’s your favorite Rick James song?
"Give It To Me Baby."
How important is music to you in your everyday life?
Every day for me, music is important, I'm not going to lie, it's not every day that I listen to Rick James but music is one of the things that can change your mood, hype you up, calm you down, get you into the partying mood -- Rick James-style. But it’s also cool because I have a 45-minute drive one-way, so I am in the car for an hour and a half and it's nice to get to catch up on all the different music. I listen to everything from rap to rock to alternative. Everything. So it's cool.
What’s up with your intros for SuperX races?
For SuperX intros, I am really the first person to start music-video intros. I get sick and tired of the regular come-out, gladiator style. Normally when you see me come out with a video, it's funny -- whether you like me or you don't, you're always laughing.
What was it like getting into the outfit for today’s shoot?
When I put on the boots, man, when I went from James Stewart to “Rick” James Stewart, it was kind of embarrassing at first but then I realized that not every day you get to be part of something like this and to be a part of a photo shoot like this. I think it's cool you have celebrities from baseball players, tennis to swimmers -- all the sports coming together, doing what we love to do, which is to listen to music and have fun.
The Playlist: James Stewart