Harry James

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a trumpet player whose career included some real twists and turns.

Harry James was born on March 15, 1916, in Albany, Georgia. He got his start in show business as a circus contortionist. His father, the circus bandmaster, taught him to play drums, piano, and trumpet. In 1931, the James family moved to Beaumont, Texas, where Harry concentrated full-time on playing trumpet. Five years later, he joined Benny Goodman’s orchestra and then formed his own band in 1939. Harry James became known for his sizzling trumpet solos and for recruiting talented collaborators, including a young Frank Sinatra.

Harry James married actress Betty Grable in 1943 and moved to Las Vegas. Prior to his death in 1983, Harry James continued to perform on his own, and he also appeared in a series of movies with the Benny Goodman band.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll go on the air with a pioneer in Spanish-language radio.


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