John James


musical style: 

photograph of John James

There are several musicians sharing the same name.

1.) The first was the lead singer for Christian pop/rock band Newsboys.

2.) The second is a UK singer-songwriter, whose first album was self-released and promoted in the early 2000s.

3.) The third is a Canadian singer/songwriter who had a moderate chart hit in Canada with "I Wanna Know," and two albums, "Big Fat Soul" and "Mothers Of Hope." Both albums had a rythymic vibe and some blue-eyed soul elements.

4.) The fourth is a Welsh fingerstyle guitarist, notable for his work in the ragtime and roots music genres.

Born in 1943, John James is a Welsh virtuoso fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter. He is best known for his original instrumental compositions for the guitar as well as interpretations of blues, folk, ragtime, jazz and classical tunes.

John James was born in Lampeter, Wales and learned the rudiments of music at the piano, switching to the guitar at the age of 12.[1] Initially he learnt his craft playing in local Pop and R&B bands but later focused on solo acoustic guitar work. He first made a name for himself in the folk clubs of the UK around 1968, playing arrangements of old blues, jazz and ragtime tunes (by composers such as Scott Joplin, and Reverend Gary Davis); Critics dubbed him the "Welsh Ragtime Wizard".

He recorded several albums for Transatlantic in the early 70s including a groundbreaking album of duets with fellow guitarist Pete Berryman[3] called "Sky in My Pie". He also became the first guitarist in the UK to arrange and record the music of Scott Joplin. In the mid 1970s he was signed up by Kicking Mule records and in 1976 released an album of original fingerpicking guitar solos and duets called "Descriptive Guitar Instrumentals". This also featured fellow guitarists John Renbourn and Duck Baker. According to Stefan Grossman, James's compositions were written out in musical form without the aid of the guitar - this enabled him to develop original ideas without being limited by his existing guitar technique.

John James has recorded over 15 albums and toured extensively, playing with artists as diverse as Jools Holland, Ralph McTell, John Renbourn and Led Zeppelin (he played support at their debut gig at London’s Round House in the 60s!). He has performed at many prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall (London), the Paris Olympia, Edinburgh and Cambridge Folk Festivals etc.

Apart from his recording and live work he has been influential in guitar education with compositions featuring in several guitar tuition books by Stefan Grossman (see "Bibliography" below). He was a columnist for "Guitar International" magazine and produced best-selling guitar tuition cassettes and videos. He has appeared on many UK radio and TV shows - including presenting a BBC TV series called “Broadsides".

John James plays fingerstyle on both a Martin M-38 acoustic and a Epiphone Emperor electric archtop guitar. His live shows are notable for his humorous anecdotes as well as virtuoso guitar picking.***

Official Website: John James

John James performs fingerstyle guitar arrangement on youtube. Read more about John James on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Gear used by John James

John James links