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Harry James
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    (March 15, 1916-July 5, 1983)
    Born in Albany, Georgia
    Birth name was Henry Haag James
    Trumpeter and big band leader
    Member of the Benny Goodman orchestra (1938-39)
    Vocalists with his band included Frank Sinatra, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes and Kitty Kallen
    Recorded the singles 'You Made Me Love You' (1941), 'I Don't Want To Walk Without You' (1941), 'Sleepy Lagoon' (1942), 'One Dozen Roses' (1942), 'Strictly Instrumental' (1942), 'Mister Five by Five' (1942), 'I Had the Craziest Dream' (1942), 'I Heard That Song Before' (1943), 'Velvet Moon' (1943), 'All or Nothing At All' (1943), 'I Heard You Cried Last Night' (1943), 'I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)' (1944), 'I'm Beginning to See the Light' (1945), 'I'll Buy That Dream' (1945), 'It's Been a Long, Long Time' (1945), 'I Can't Begin to Tell You' (1945), 'I'm Always Chasing Rainbows' (1946) and 'Heartaches' (1947)
    Appeared in the films 'Springtime in the Rockies' (1942), 'Private Buckaroo' (1942), 'Best Foot Forward' (1943), 'Bathing Beauty' (1944) and 'The Benny Goodman Story' (1956)
    He grew up in a touring circus, where he was billed as 'the youngest contortionist in the world' (until he became leader of the circus band).
    He was married and divorced three times, including once with actress Betty Grable.
    He punched out George Raft at the Palladium.
    His string-laden singles were derided as schmaltzy by jazz purists.
    He tried to get Sinatra to change his name to 'Frankie Satin.'
    His endless drinking, gambling and womanizing prompted a band member to describe him as 'a perpetual teenager as a man.'
    Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis were fans of his trumpet playing.
    His good looks were described as 'a sort of WASP Cesar Romero.'
    When a southern hotel refused to rent a room to a black musician in his band, he told the rest of the group to pack up and leave; the hotel gave in.
    He continued to perform after being diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, playing his last gig nine days before his death.
    Sinatra delivered the eulogy at his funeral.
    He said he had no fear of death, commenting 'It's just another road trip.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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