Jimmy Justice (musician)
As a young man, James Little befriended Dave and George Sweetman, who were stepbrothers of Emile Ford. Because of this, Little was occasionally invited to sing with the Checkmates, and was encouraged by Ford to start his own group. After competing in a talent show he was noticed by executives from EMI, but he eventually signed with Pye Records instead at the urging of Ford. His debut single, credited to "JJ & the Jury", was 1960's "I Understand". While "the Jury" was the name used for Justice's subsequent backing band, on this first recording he is backed by the Checkmates.
Despite the single's lack of success, Pye offered him a three-year recording contract. While visiting his girlfriend, who lived in Sweden, he sang in clubs and on radio and television, resulting in his first major exposure; eventually, he would score a major hit in Sweden with the tune "Little Lonely One", originally by the Jarmels. He remained in Sweden during the time that his records began to break in the UK, with three of them hitting the UK Singles Chart in 1962; "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" (#9, March), "Ain't That Funny" (#8, June), and "Spanish Harlem" (#20, August). His version of "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" had competition from both the Drifters original cut (UK #31) and Craig Douglas' cover (UK #9).
Because of his general absence in UK at the time his records hit the charts, he was unable to capitalize fully on his popularity in his home country. Meanwhile, Kapp Records picked up "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" for distribution in the U.S., where it peaked at #127. His records were also popular throughout continental Europe and in Australia.
Justice released two full-length albums in 1963 (I Wake Up Crying and Justice for All!) but soon faded in the wake of the beat group explosion. The former included a cover of Clyde McPhatter's hit "Since You've Been Gone".
UK singles chart hits
- "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) - #9 - Pye
- "Ain't That Funny" (Les Vandyke) #8 - Pye
- "Spanish Harlem" (Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector) #20 - Pye