“This is an album which is a mixture of new songs and some numbers I’ve been meaning to record for a while now. A few titles I’ve revisited but done the way I see them now. It’s an album that is essentially about the guitar and voice but with the feels that I enjoy playing to.It also has a distinctly blues element which is where my roots are.” James Litherland
James Litherland was born in Salford to poor parents who worked in the Textile industry. He got his first guitar at the age of eight and was introduced to blues music at the age of ten. Within a year he was playing in bands, at first blues and then branching out into Stax and then Motown bands.
After leaving school he worked for two years, until – at the age of nineteen – he answered an advertisement in Melody Maker for the band Colosseum who had within their ranks, three ex members of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. Within a week he had moved to London to become a professional musician with Colosseum as the singer and guitarist.
After two albums: ‘Those About To Die Salute You’ and Valentyne Suite, for which he wrote a substantial amount, including their biggest seller “Elegy” he left to form Mogul Thrash with John Wetton (later of Roxy Music, King Crimson and Asia) Roger Ball and Malcom Duncan (later of The Average White Band). After one album, ‘Mogul Thrash’ for which he wrote many songs, he formed Million and backed Long John Baldry; Dick Heckstall-Smith and Leo Sayer, working on albums and touring with all three.
James then lived in San Francisco for a year playing in a Bay Area band and playing with people such as Gaylord Birch (Pointer Sisters); Tom Salisbury (Van Morrison); Greg Errico and Bobby Vega (Sly And The Family Stone as well as Billy Roberts (who wrote Hey Joe) and Huey Lewis amongst others.
James returned to England to form Bandit with Cliff Williams (later of AC/DC) Graham Broad (later of Roger Waters and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings), Danny McKintosh (later with Kate Bush) and Jim Diamond. They also backed and recorded with Alexis Korner.
After one album ‘Bandit’ on which once again, James wrote a substantial amount, he shunned the limelight to become a session guitarist and worked with people such as The Furys; Steve Marriott; Dennis Hopper; Maggie Bell, and many others, working on TV commercials, films, albums and in theatre.
Around this time, James married and had a son who was named James after his father and Blake after his father-in-law. James Blake has of course become successful in his own right and on his first album ‘James Blake’ he covered his dad’s ‘Where To Turn’ from James’s ‘4th Estate’ album. This was re named ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ for which James and his son were nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 2011.
James Litherland’s latest album is ‘Back ‘n Blue’ and is out now.