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Harry James' Childhood Homesite

Henry Haag

Henry Haag "Harry" James was an American musician who became famous as one of the most popular bandleaders during the "Big Band" or "Swing Band" era of the 1930s and 1940s. He was born in 1916 in Albany, Georgia. When Harry was eight his parents settled in Beaumont, where his father, Everette, was a music teacher. Everette set up a studio in their home located at 2095 Neches Street which is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. Harry James joined Dick Dowling Junior High School Orchestra and at Beaumont High School he joined the Royal Purple Band. He began his professional career in 1934 when he toured with Joe Gill. In 1935 James joined Ben Pollack's Band where he made his recording debut with "Spreading Knowledge Around." In 1937, Benny Goodman heard James play and offered him a job with his orchestra. James started his own band in 1940 with Goodman's blessing and financial support. James recorded many popular songs including "You Made Me Love You" and "Flight of the Bumble Bee," and by 1942 he was one of the most popular musicians in the country. James was instrumental in jumpstarting the careers of famous entertainers, such as singer Frank Sinatra and drummer Buddy Rich. His film career began with Hollywood Hotel, but also included other films like Two Girls and a Sailor, Young Man With a Horn, The Benny Goodman Story, Anything Goes, and Springtime In The Rockies with his second wife, actress Betty Grable. Harry James has been called "one of the most essential trumpeters and bandleaders in the history of American music." His innovative playing style influenced trumpeters and changed the history of jazz. Harry James died in 1983 and is buried in Las Vegas, Nevada. (2012)

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