James Charles

James Charles, (Jimmie) was born on the 14th of June 1944 in a mining village called Walsall Wood, South Staffordshire, The Black Country. Jim was born into a musical family, his mother was as an accomplished pianist, in the early 1920s at an early age she was a pianist in the silent movies, flicks as they were called then, she had a wide musical career. His brother Cliff was a cornet player, his two sisters Pat and Joan were both singer's.

From a very early age Jim took an interest in bugles and drums etc, it wasn't easy acquiring an instrument in the late 40s. He joined the life boys, didn't get a bugle there, then the boys brigade, only got to play one there when someone was missing. He then joined the Salvation Army, not for spiritual needs but to acquire a cornet, that failed but he did get an old baritone with only two working valves, this seemed like some kind of retribution, never the less, he never lost his affection for the SA.

Jims three uncles played in what was then called Aldridge town Band. His uncle Arthur, who was solo horn with the Band gave Jim lessons on an old Boosey cornet he had borrowed from the Band, there was no case with it so Jim kept it in a palethorps sausage box and says he took it to bed with him, after six months he joined the Band on third cornet, it was not easy as the conductor Tom Smith was a staunch disciplinarian, it didn't take much to get your ears clipped or your knuckles rapped, it's a wonder anyone came through the ordeal.

At the age of twelve Jim went as a part time student to study under Bram Gay at the Birmingham school of music. Whilst working his way through the cornet ranks with his local Band, reaching principal cornet at the age of fourteen. On leaving school at the age of fifteen, Jim started an electrical apprenticeship at the local coalmine. These were busy times has he was also playing trumpet in the school of music orchestra, wind band and the NYBB.

On one occasion Foden's Band came to Birmingham Town hall, he then went (after his lesson) with Bram to the concert. The Bands sound had a lasting impression on Jim, in 1960 he wrote to Rex Mortimer on Bram's recommendation for an audition. He had his audition at Foden's Bandroom in the Autumn and was offered the position of 5th man down, later that day he had his first rehearsal with the Band, In mid December he left home boarded a train to Crewe, he was then picked up by Rex, given a Besson cornet and found lodgings with Mary Wood, home from home. It was Monday the 12th of December 1960, Jim had found his Band.

Since 1960 Jimmy has held various positions in the band and is currently the Librarian with an active interest in the bands history