This Day in Texas History: Big Band Leader Born
This Day in Texas History:
Big Band Leader Born
March 15, 1916
On this day in 1916, Harry James, jazz trumpet player and big-band leader, was born in Albany, Georgia. Though thought by many to be a native Texan, he did not arrive in Texas until the 1930s, when he and his parents moved to Beaumont. There he played trumpet and led a band.
In 1936 James joined Benny Goodman’s orchestra. He made a name for himself with fiery trumpet solos and an appearance in the band’s 1938 movie, Hollywood Hotel. After he started the Harry James Band in 1940, his hit song “You Made Me Love You” (1941) sold over a million copies.
A true virtuoso, Harry, along with his band, developed the boogie-woogie style for big-band swing. His romantic ballads were the key to his success and shot him to fame as a big-band leader.
Still an active musician in the 1970s, he was quoted then as saying, “I don’t look at people as changing, being old or being young. I just look down from the stand to see if people are having fun.” Harry James died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1983.