Does the name David James ring a bell? Probably not.
Even though you’ve never heard of him, if you’ve turned on a radio, watched TV or been to a concert in the last thirty years, you probably have heard him. During the course of his career, David has performed live to over a million people all over the world, made hundreds of TV and radio appearances, sang on five top forty records, appeared in six major music videos, and recorded over twenty albums. Throw in jingles, even karioke tracks, you’ve heard his voice, guitar or bass.
Then there’s the songwriting. David established himself as a staff writer at the legendary FAME Music in Muscle Shoals, Alabama from 1994 to 1998, and went on to spend three years at Encore / Warner Bros. Entertainment in Nashville. He has had over fifty songs recorded by various artists, including the Grammy nominated "Certified" for Grammy Award winner James Cotton, the hit single "Lie To Me" for rhythm & blues great Dorothy Moore, and "Never Get Enough" for country-rock super group POCO.
With his band Fish Heads & Rice David toured the world and released three albums for Milan, Italy’s Appaloosa Records before recording an unreleased album for Sony/Columbia Records in Nashville. Since then he has released two solo CDs for Troppo Forte Music and just finished a new album, "Purple House," with Paolo Bonfanti on the BPR label.
Wanting a simpler life for his family, and the chance to perform as a musician again, David made St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands his home. In a recent interview, David was asked about the move to St. Croix, a look back on his career so far and some thoughts on the future. Here’s some of what he had to say:
"The move to the Virgin Islands comes from a lot of things, a better place for my family, a new adventure and the chance to get back to playing music again. It's gone really well, in just a couple years I've played on all three U.S. Virgin Islands and opened shows for Dr. John and Mavis Staples. My last few years in Nashville got so corporate that I really wasn’t even playing much anymore. Writing, meetings and sessions but very little actually playing music in front of people, you know, having fun with the crowd. On our first three records for Appaloosa, we had complete creative control. Got to make eclectic albums with a mix of Rock, R&B, Country, Cajun, Soul, Blues, all the great music I’ve always loved. With Sony it turned into marketing meetings and radio focus groups. No one ever talked about the music, strictly business. Anyway, it really started to get me down on music altogether, so I needed a drastic change. With these two solo CD's (Clean Getaway & Eisenhower High) I got to just make music again and with the playing around the islands, I’m really glad I did it."
"As far as looking back, wow, a lot can happen in thirty years. Off the top of my head I’d say some
highlights would be meeting and playing with Jerry Lee Lewis. He goes wide open all the time. I met him
right when he got out of the hospital and he was still running full tilt boogie. Getting to write with guys like
Peter Frampton, Mark Selby, Keith Urban, and Craig Fuller (Little Feat & Pure Prairie League) would have to be high up on the list. Playing the Grand Ole Opry the first time, actually every time was really special, but the first time really stands out. It’s one of the few times I can ever remember having stage fright. Doing Hee-Haw with Mel McDaniel was a gas and I’d have to say being featured in an article in Bass Player Magazine was an honor."
Fish Heads & Rice opening shows in Europe for B. B. King, Ry Cooder, and Keb Mo was very cool.
Playing for, writing with and just knowing Jo-El Sonnier through the years has been great. He’s the real
thing, I mean nothing but pure musical energy, it’s great, no filters, no nothing. Man, there’s a bunch of
stuff. Playing with Albert Collins, Billy Joe Royal, Gene Parsons. I’m sure I’ll leave someone out.
Opening shows for and meeting Willie Nelson, George Jones, and Merle Haggard. Russell Smith from The Amazing Rhythm Aces, he’s a trip, but what a gas to work with. We had a couple of great tours, great music, big fun. Touring and recording a live CD (Live in Massachusetts) with Jonathan Edwards was a real treat, he was always one of my favorite singers. I don’t know, there’s a whole lot more, but I don’t need to sit here going down memory lane and bore you to tears. Let’s just say it’s been pretty good so far and leave it at that."
"What’s in store for the future? Who knows, I mean anything can happen. I’m taking it a lot slower these days. I just finished Purple House with Paolo Bonfanti and now Paolo and I are touring in Italy again, so I guess I'm staying busy as I want to."
Nowadays David has become a full time traveler along with his wife Veronica. They chonicle their journeys on their popular website GypsyNester.com. They are also the authors of
Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure From Empty Nest to No Nest at All.
Click here to see David's complete discography
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The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.
- Hunter S. Thompson