Harry James was born in a rundown hotel next to the city jail in Albany, Georgia. His mother and father were members of a circus - she as a trapeze artist and he a band leader - with the Mighty Haag Circus.
Harry James was born in a rundown hotel next to the city jail in Albany, Georgia. His mother and father were members of a circus - she as a trapeze artist and he a band leader - with the Mighty Haag Circus. At seven, they settled in Beaumont, Texas where Harry learned to play drums. By twelve, he was playing trumpet in the Christy Brothers circus band. In 1936 James joined Ben Pollacks band, soon leaving to lead the brass section of Benny Goodmans band. He even once applied to Lawrence Welks band but was turned down because they said he played too loud and it was not Welks style. After three years with Goodman, he wanted to leave, and with Goodmans backing, he formed the Music Makers. In 1943 he married pinup queen Betty Grable, his second of four wives. He had earlier married and divorced Louise Tobin, a singer. Grable kept appearing in movies and Harry kept playing while they raised horses. He made his debut in Philadelphia at the Ben Franklin Hotel and soon was a nationwide favorite of dance lovers and jazz addicts, rocking the rafters at the Hollywood Paladium, Chicagos famous College Inn at the Hotel Sherman, Frank Daileys Meadowbrook in Cedar Cove, NJ, and then onto New York City. It was the Lincoln Hotel in NYC that the Music Makers called home, but James also starred at the Paramount Theater in the spring of 1943, with thousands of teenagers flocking to see him.