Harry James

March 15, 1916-July 5, 1983               Beaumont, Texas

Harry James was born in Albany, Georgia. He was a trumpeter, band leader, and composer who began his musical career playing with the Haag Circus. His mother was an acrobat and horseback rider, and his father was the circus band leader. The Haag Circus wintered in Beaumont, which influenced the decision of his family to settle there when he was fifteen.


He was nicknamed "The Hawk" early in his career for his ability to sight-read. A common joke was that if a fly landed on his written music, Harry James would play it.  After playing with the bands of Joe Gale, Ben Pollack, and Benny Goodman, James started his own band in 1939. Harry James’ band was the first “name band” to employ Frank Sinatra as a vocalist.


As of 2016, two recordings had been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the 1941 Single "You Made Me Love You" and the 1942 Album Trumpet Blues and Cantabile.   He married three times, his second to actress Betty Grable. James was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6683

Hollywood Blvd. on February 8, 1960. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1983. James released over twenty records and continued to perform until his death in 1983. An historical marker in Beaumont, TX marks the location of his childhood home.

Harry James performs "You Made Me Love You".
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Museum Address: 700 Procter, Port Arthur, TX 77640

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is administered by the Port Arthur Historical Society in partnership with the City of Port Arthur.  

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