Harry James was a band leader who learned to play the horn in a circus band and became one of the world's top trumpeters.
James and his glitzy trumpet epitomized the big band sound. He got his start in 1937 with another big band star,Benny Goodman, sharing the stand with Ziggy Elman, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson.
Two years later, he formed his own band. In the band's early years James worked with Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest and Kitty Kallen.
James recorded the classic "You Made Me Love You" and the country sat up and listened. He had hit the big time. He followed with "I Cried For You," "I Had the Craziest Dream," "Ciribiribin," and other h its with gaudy trumpet solos.
At the height of his career in 1943, James married Betty Grable, the famed film beauty. Two years later, a U.S. Treasury report listed them as the highest-paid couple in the nation. Their marriage lasted until 1965, when they were divorced.
Harry Haag James was born in Albany, Ga., where the Mighty Haag Circus was pitched at the time. His mother performed on a trapeze and his father conducted a circus band.
By age 10, James was playing solo trumpet and at the age of 12 was conducting the No.2 circus band.
When the big band swing era diminished, James turned to Las Vegas and spent most of the 1950s and 1960s in Vegas Strip lounges.