JAMES PAGE, born in Compton CA and raised in South Los Angeles, first was exposed to American Music – from hillbilly to jump blues, country blues to swing – from his Uncle Ed Tunks’ wide collection of 78 records. A born performer, he practiced his music show in front of the bedroom mirror from a young age, entertaining his family and friends with his naturally strong vocals and undeniable charisma. Jump forward to high school, where James had become the theatre department’s “local legend” as well as a feared member of the school’s football team. One afternoon at football practice, young James heard music in the distance. He ditched practice, jumped the fence, and slipped into an auditorium where he came for the first time upon The Blasters hammering out a live music show. Lead singer Phil Alvin immediately took James under his wing, providing James with his first musical mentor. Like later mentor James Harmon, 15-year-old James Page was totally “overtaken by the blues” and soon became a regular on stages in the Long Beach CA area, playing juke joints, saloons, bars, and dance clubs. Although underaged, he “looked and sounded like a man,” and his performances quickly became legendary, invoking a near-frenzy in devoted audiences everywhere.
Drawn to “defend his country,” James got his mother’s permission to join the US Army when only 17 years old, but when he returned, he dove again into music, befriending mentors such as Rick Estrin and even his biggest musical hero, Cab Calloway. James returned from the service with not much wardrobe, and from that came his iconic trench coat: “That’s all the clothes I had when I got out of the Army!” he says. “Whiteboy” James and the Blues Express again immediately were on top in the Long Beach area and beyond, playing up to 300 live shows a year all around the country.
A tough kid who became a tough man, James’s onstage reputation became one of an old-school-style blues man who would deliver 110 percent but not suffer fools. Called up again by the Army, he plunged afterward into a wild, exciting, but dangerous life that culminated in his arrest and incarceration for nearly five years. While “inside,” James mentored other prisoners and continued to have a band, with inmates and staff looking forward to Whiteboy James and the Blues Express shows. Even before he was released, excitement was building about James’s return, and when he got out, he was greeted by a “Whiteboy James Release Party,” where he and the Long Beach band of musicians who’d been awaiting him played a highly-energetic and life-affirming show for over 1,000 loving fans and friends.
Beating the odds, James learned from his mistakes and has not had trouble with the law since his incarceration. In fact, especially around the Long Beach CA area, James counts many members of law enforcement as his friends… as well as the bad guys who put down their weapons to come enjoy a Whiteboy James show.
James has continued to wow audiences since with his sorcerer-like powers of performance on stage. Recalling the great shout singers of the 1940s, yet as unique and vital as tomorrow, James has mounted a fundraiser show to obtain a headstone for another of his mentors, the great Big Joe Turner; lent voice acting talents and original songs to the Blizzard video game phenomenon Starcraft; been featured in Jesse James’s international publication, Garage; and played a tour of Western Europe. His side project today is with his wife, Bakersfield-bred musician Jenny Page, in the Whiteboy and Jenny Combo, where he gets to play more of the songs he learned long ago from Uncle Ed. The future is unlimited for Whiteboy James, the tough, passionate, funny, virile, foul-mouthed, yet lovable hurricane of a songwriter, harmonica blower, amazing singer, and uniquely gifted human being. If you get the chance to see Whiteboy James on stage, you will be astonished, will never forget him and more than anything will want to see him again.