Kurt James

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Kurt James
Background information
Origin South Pasadena, California
Genres Heavy metal, Jazz fusion
Years active 1985 – present
Associated acts Steeler, Willie Basse, Driver, Stryper, Deathriders, K9 Devotion
Website KurtJames.com

Kurt James (born May 27, 1967 in Palo Alto, California) is an American Heavy metalrock guitarist and composer.

Mr. James has recorded many different styles of music over the years, including (most recently) Rockabilly, in the form of a collaboration with the Christian rockabilly band The Pioneers.

Musical career[edit]

James has performed in Japan, Europe and North America. At the age of 15 he was sharing lead guitar duties with Ted Hall, from the L.A. fusion band "The Fents". At 16 he was playing in a band with the guitarist Steve Medrano, all the while continuing to perform live in his own fusion trio. James also played with multitude of local Los Angeles bands such as Stryper, Black Sheep, Black Bart, etc. He has also appeared in the album Dr. Mastermind with Deen Castronovo on drums and Matt McCourt on bass and vocals.

James came into prominence by joining the band Steeler.[1] Prior to joining Steeler he developed his technique and experience by playing with guitarist Steve Medrano from the band West Winds. Playing in Steeler was a turning point, James joined the band on a Sunday and the following Thursday he was headlining the Country Club in Reseda. That's where he met Mike Varney.

James is also a bass player. His bass playing was featured on the album Dangerous Madness by Wayne Kramer from MC5 and Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers. James performed a Jaco Tribute with the band Mr. Gone to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the bassist Jaco Pastorius. He recorded in Majorca, Spain, an album named Contra.2com with Rafael Aguilo on drums and Toni Terrades on keyboards.

After Steeler, James got a call from the Christian rock band Stryper, he played the material that eventually made it on the record Soldiers Under Command. Around this time he became friends with Paul Gilbert. Gilbert had been playing in the band Black Sheep and told James that they were looking for a guitarist, both guitarists are featured on the record Trouble in the Streets and were replaced by Slash and Doug Aldrich, who played live with the band. Aldrich appeared on the cover. He also played with Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge in the first version of Driver, featuring vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. After his stint in Driver, James formed a band with Neil Turbin called KJB or the Kurt James Band, the band was briefly called Hard Knocks. That band lasted 13 months, after the Japanese record label influenced James to audition other vocalists, no replacement was found. The album was to be produced by Allan Holdsworth, but ultimately, was never finished nor released.

After his stint in the Kurt James Band, James got a call from Mike Varney, who asked him to play on a record with Deen Castronovo on drums and the original singer of The Wild Dogs, Matt McCourt. That record was called Dr. Mastermind. James went to Japan after that, and played concerts, secured endorsement deals with Greco and Eranan Guitars and was featured in several magazine articles. He also participated in Japan's "Guitar Heros" Tour, where he was featured along with five other guitarists, including Vinnie Moore, Michaelangelo, Mitch Perry, Joey Tafolla and David T. Chastain. After that James was in a band Only the Brave featuring Shawn Michael Perry on vocals and Randy Bush on bass. Another band James fronted was called K-9 Devotion, a trio that recorded and gigged around the Pasadena area. Always interested in fretless bass, he formed a Jaco Pastorius tribute band called Mr. Gone.

From 2009 to 2012 Mr. James played lead guitar in the Christian rockabilly band The Pioneers, and is featured on their 2013 release Rod Rattler.

Kurt is also a producer, working with various artists in Spain including Blanca Apodaca, the Fabulous Black Cats and The Volcanoes.

Kurt received production credits for the recording of two C.D.'s by the Black Cats (of Spain), and played all guitars and produced the 2012 release of Awesome Dawson and the Volcanoes.



Title Release Remarks
Dr. Mastermind Dr Mastermind 1987 Shrapnel Records/ Produced by Mike Varney
Steeler Metal Generation 2007 Ft. on three tracks
Beyond this life 2005 Recorded in Spain
Fire from Within 2005 Recorded in Spain
Mystic Planet 2006 Third in the recorded in Spain trilogy

Other album appearances[edit]

Title Release Remarks
Neil Turbin
Threatcon Delta
2006 Ft. ex-Anthrax vocalist Neil Turbin 2003
Dangerous Madness 1997 Wayne Kramer with Red Hot Chili Peppers
drummer Chad Smith


External links[edit]