Harry James
Columbia Records

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NOTE: This Album Art .gif is from a 1940s album designed to be filled up with one's own selections of Harry James records. This Album was from the private collection of W.A.M.S. member Robbie Gerson.

Harry Hagg James was born in Albany, Georgia on March 15, 1916. His parents worked in travelling circuses; Harry's father, Everett, conducted the band. Young Harry began on drums at the age of seven, then at 10 he began taking trumpet lessons from his father. In 1931 the family settled in Beaumont and Harry began playing in Texas with various bands including Old Phillips Friars, Logan Hancock, and Herman Waldman, also toured as far as New Orleans with band led by violinist Joe Gill. With Ben Pollack from 1936, then joined Benny Goodman in January 1937. Left Goodman in late December 1938 to form his own band which made its official debut in February 1939 at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia.

Previously he had led his own recording band and had taken part in pickup studio recordings with Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, etc. By the early 1940s Harry's band had an enormous following, several records featuring his trumpet playing became best sellers. Continued to tour regularly until the early 1950s, then after a spell of semi-retirement in California he reorganized his band for residencies in the U.S. and a tour of Europe in late 1957.

During the 1960s he was not continually active as a bandleader, but regularly led for long seasons in Nevada. In 1960 he played engagements in New York after a seven year absence from that locale, subsequently he returned to play in New York on several occasions including Carnegie Hall Concert in September 1964.

Harry James was originally married to vocalist Louise Tobin, subsequently he married actress Betty Grable in 1943, since their divorce he has remarried.

His films include: "Private Buckaroo," "Mr Co Ed," "A Tale of Two Sisters," "Syncopation," "Bathing Beauty," "If I'm Lucky," "Carnegie Hall," "Springtime in the Rockies," "Kitten on the Keys," "Best Foot Forward," "Two Girls and a Sailor," "Do You Love Me," "The Benny Goodman Story." etc. Harry James also soundtracked for actor Kirk Douglas in "Young Man with a Horn."

He toured Europe with own big band in autumn 1970 and again in the autumn of 1971, also played residencies in the USA during 1970s.

From "Whos Who In Jazz," by John Chilton

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