"We started off ... in the '60s at weddings and birthday parties. I remember going to an engagement in Dukinfield on the bus with our instruments then walking home afterwards" - Mike James
Growing up in a musical family in working class Stalybridge, Cheshire, Mike's musical career began playing the piano in a trio. His first professional engagement was above the Pineapple Inn for a fee of £5 and 10 shillings shared three ways between himself, his father on sax and his friend on drums. These modest beginnings would prove to be a far cry from some of his later venues and concerts in the successful career that would soon follow.
Inspired as a boy by seeing the legendary Count Basie live in concert, Mike dreamed of touring the world with an orchestra of his own. He would get his wish in the 1970s when after going pro with his new larger band, during a 13 season run as flagship band of the Pontins holiday centre circuit, he was spotted by agents from Cunard, famous for the legendary ocean liner The QE2 (Queen Elizabeth 2).
Now on board the most prestigious and luxurious cruise ship of its day Mike and his band were performing every night alongside classic entertainers such as Bob Hope, Petula Clarke, Vera Lynn, Bill Cosby, Bob Monkhouse, Jimmy Tarbuck and Vic Damone. Mike quickly rose to become Musical Director of this, one of the most famous cruise ships of all time and spent many years traveling the world entertaining the rich and famous, whilst maintaining residencies and radio and television broadcasts back home.
The success continued through the decades with shows for international royalty, yet more cruises around the world, seasons and events in Kuwait, Bahrain and all across the Middle East and appearances in two Hollywood feature films and soundtracks. Mike also achieved yet another boyhood dream when he got the opportunity to follow in the foot steps of his other musical heros and take his big band into the resident spot at the famous dance venue The Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
Now well into the 21st century the Mike James Orcehstra and Singers still headlines some of the biggest private and corporate events and still packs the crowds in for sell-out touring shows. For over 4 decades Mike James has lead his band with his characteristic exuberance and he shows little signs of stopping.