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When his third, breakthrough album, That Nigger's Crazy (1974), was released, Laff, which claimed ownership of Pryor's recording rights, almost succeeded in getting an injunction to prevent the album from being sold.Negotiations led to Pryor's release from his Laff contract.His first comedy recording, the eponymous 1968 debut release on the Dove/Reprise label, captures this particular period, tracking the evolution of Pryor's routine.Around this time, his parents died—his mother in 1967 and his father in 1968.Angered that a white soldier was overly amused at the racially charged scenes of Douglas Sirk's film Imitation of Life, Pryor and several other black soldiers beat and stabbed him, although not fatally.In 1963, Pryor moved to New York City and began performing regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen.Pryor won an Emmy Award (1973) and five Grammy Awards (1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, and 1982).
The first five tracks on the 2005 compilation CD Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966–1974), recorded in 19, capture Pryor in this period.Two years later, the relatively unknown comedian appeared in the documentary Wattstax (1972), wherein he riffed on the tragic-comic absurdities of race relations in Watts and the nation.Not long afterward, Pryor sought a deal with a larger label, and he signed with Stax Records in 1973.Pryor's body of work includes the concert movies and recordings: Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin' (1971), That Nigger's Crazy (1974), ... (1975), Bicentennial Nigger (1976), Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), and Richard Pryor: Here and Now (1983).As an actor, he starred mainly in comedies such as Silver Streak (1976), but occasionally in dramas, such as Paul Schrader's Blue Collar (1978), or action films, such as Superman III (1983).
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Records, which re-released That Nigger's Crazy, immediately after ... Pryor's release Bicentennial Nigger (1976) continued his streak of success.