One day, I got a call from Teena Marie’s manager (Winnie Jones). She asked if I wanted to produce Teena. I said “send me some tapes,” so I can hear some more of her voice. After I heard her, I was geeked to produce her. Never in my life had I heard such a range with so much passion in a white voice.
I immediately started writing for her. I was also told that this was her last shot. She had spent close to $400,000 recording and still no album. I was amazed at how Motown could spend so much money without getting at least one tune out of it.
Motown really didn’t know what to do with her. Berry had signed her as an actress, and singing was going to be secondary for her.
After I listened to Teena’s voice carefully, writing for her was easy. The songs just seemed to come: Deja Vu, “Don’t Look Back,” and I decided to give her-Sucker For Your Love (which I originally wrote for Diana Ross).
Teena lived with Winnie and her daughter (Jill) and Winnie’s boyfriend, Fuller Gordy (Berry’s brother). Jill would later move in with Prince and have a part in Purple Rain.
The first time I made love to Teena was during a tour in Pittsburgh. She wrote a song about it called “Portuguese Love.” She told me that I was the first man to give her an orgasm. We made love from sun-down to sun-up but we were never boyfriend and girlfriend although everyone was under the impression that we were involved during this time period.
When she got angry with me about other women, she’d curse me out under her breath when we performed “Fire & Desire,” on stage.
- Rick James