Friday, December 18, 2009

Dick James

(photo by Goodtime Charlie - Caesar's Palace, LV, NV)


I have finally discovered the link between Lennon/McCartney and Elton John/Bernie Taupin, two of the greatest musical partnerships the world has ever known.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Dick James, courtesy of wikipedia:

Early Life

He was born in the East End of London.

Early days

James sang with North London dance bands in his early teens, and was a regular vocalist at the Cricklewood Palais by the age of seventeen. He joined the Henry Hall band, and made first radio broadcast in 1940. Joining the Army in 1942, after World Was II he continued to sing with top post-war bands, including Geraldo's. Later still, James was also a part time member of The Stargazers, a popular early 1950s vocal group.

He was the singer of the Robin Hood and The Buccaneers theme songs, from British television in the 1950s, and was a friend and associate of renowned record producer George Martin.

Switch to publishing

James entered the music publishing business as his singing career tapered off, and in 1963 established Northern Songs Ltd., with Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to publish Lennon and McCartney's original songs. (Fellow Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr were also signed to Northern Songs as songwriters, but did not renew their contracts in 1968). James's company, DIck James Music, administered Northern Songs.

What initially began as an amicable working relationship between the Beatles and James disintegrated by the late 1960s; the Beatles considered that James had betrayed and taken advantage of them when he sold Northern Songs in 1969 without offering the band an opportunity to buy control of the publishing company. James profited handsomely from the sale of Northern Songs, but the Beatles never again had the rights to their own songs.

During the 1960s he also handled Billy J. Kramer and Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Later Days

James signed Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin as untried unknowns in 1967, and formed DJM Records in '69. Indeed, all of John's early releases (up to 1976) were issued on the DJM record label. The label also carried Jasper Carrott, RAH Band, and even John Inman.

John formed his own Rocket label in 1976, but in 1982, John was involved in a long court case with James about royalties.


James died of an heart attack in early 1986, at the age of 65.

Dick James, the leftmost of the two dorks in this photo

The guy sounds like he was probably a real asshole, but according to a story that I read once, he got Elton John and Bernie Taupin together via a classified ad, so ya gotta at least give him credit for that oh-so-perfect marriage of poet and musician.

Speaking of Elton John, he may not have handled his balding, age, or gayness as well as he should have and currently resembles a fat, depressed, androgynous penguin, but the guy used to be pretty cool:


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