Exploiting his own life experiences with a brutal honesty, which he delivered in a profanity-laced urban lyricism, Richard Pryor was arguably the most influential and groundbreaking comedian of his generation. Emerging from a youth of violence and abuse, Pryor used that history to inform his comedy, more as a raconteur than as a traditional teller of jokes. His material was profane and socially astute, provoking thought as well as laughter. As a writer, he earned an Emmy, in addition to five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums. Although a veteran of more than 40 feature films, Pryor's creative apex came with the seminal performance movie "Richard Pryor Live in Concert" (1979). Then, at the height of his fame and in the depths of a debilitating drug addiction, Pryor nearly died after lighting himself on fire while he "freebased" cocaine in 1980. To the astonishment of many, he rose like a phoenix from the ashes and went on to become one of the biggest movie stars of the day in films like "Stir Crazy" (1980) and "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip" (1982). The rebirth was short-lived, unfortunately, after the effects of multiple sclerosis began to erode his once formidable ability, beginning in 1986 and ultimately debilitating the comedian by the end of the decade. Cited as a major influence by the likes of Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, Pryor not only expanded the definition of comedy, but also the social and racial boundaries that had previously defined its audience.