James Alexander was the bassist for The Bar-Kays when four of the six band members, including Jones, were killed in the same plane crash that claimed the life of soul singer Otis Redding. Alexander was the only Bar-Kays member not aboard that flight as the plane, a Beechcraft owned by Redding, only held eight occupants (Redding, five of the Bar-Kays, the pilot and Redding's road manager); it was Alexander's turn in the rotation to board a commercial flight to the next destination. Alexander had the task of identifying the bodies of his bandmates, as well as that of Redding.
After the crash, Ben Cauley, the sole survivor among those who were aboard the plane, worked with Alexander to reform the band. Subsequent work included the soundtrack recording of the Academy Award-winning theme song from the 1971 feature film Shaft, on which Alexander played bass guitar. As of 2010, Alexander continues on as the only original member in still-active Bar-Kays.