Jimmy James inducted into the Guildhall Wall Of Fame
Jimmy James inducted into the Guildhall Wall Of Fame

Jimmy James inducted into the Guildhall Wall Of Fame

PORTSMOUTH’S ‘SMILING SHOWMAN’, JIMMY JAMES OF THE VAGABONDS, INDUCTED TO GUILDHALL’S WALL OF FAME

Portsmouth Guildhall is delighted to announce that another of the city’s most successful musicians, Jimmy James, was today inducted to their Wall of Fame in recognition of his contribution to the music industry.

Jimmy James was born and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica but quickly established himself in the hearts of Portsmouth’s club goers of the 1960s, becoming known as the ‘Smiling Showman’.

Jimmy & his Ska band, The Vagabonds, first appeared at the Birdcage Club on 17th June 1965 with tickets costing 4 shillings. Following the much-loved club’s relocation to Eastney, the band played there a further 29 times in just 2 years.

On 25th September 1966, a coach load of fans from Portsmouth went to London for the recording of the Jimmy James & The Vagabonds album; “London Swings” - Live at The Marquee, the cover of which featured a banner for the Birdcage.

Jimmy James, well known for hits including Come to Me Softly, Now is the Time and I’ll Go Where the Music Takes Me, still tours regularly across the UK today.

The induction, which ended in Jimmy and the audience breaking into song, took place to a full room of Jimmy’s family, friends, connections to the Portsmouth music scene and Southsea resident, Cilla Gilmore who featured on the cover of The Vagabonds first LP when she was just 15. Looking back on the cover Cilla recalled, “As a pupil at the local Convent School at the time, The Birdcage was strictly out of bounds to me and my friends so when an article featuring the LP cover appeared in The News, I had to cut it out before my parents could see it!”

Speaking earlier this week on Express FM’s Soft Rock Show with Geoff Dorsett and Adrian Collis, Jimmy spoke of his delight at being inducted to the Wall of Fame and his wish to “dedicate the award to all the people of Portsmouth who have been so instrumental in his career”.

Portsmouth Guildhall’s Wall of Fame was introduced in 2014 to honour artists who have achieved great success and whose work has reached out to millions, creating immense joy and entertainment.

Artists invited to join the Wall of Fame have either a local or long-standing connection with the Guildhall and Jimmy James will sit in the company of The Osmonds, Genesis’ Steve Hackett, Mark King of Level 42, Foreigners’ Mick Jones, Musical Director and keyboard player for Queen; Spike Edney, The Godfather of British Blues; John Mayall, Manfred Manns’ Paul Jones, bands; Simon Dupree and The Big Sound and Gentle Giant, Joe Jackson and Portsmouth born, Julia Fordham.

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