A skillful master of lyrics and melody, worked with Bob Dylan and Dylan’s organization from 79 to 92. Best known for the melody line and lyrical hook of Bob Dylan’s Grammy nominated “Dignity”.
In 1979 James originally from Freehold New Jersey drew the attention of the renowned CBS record producer John Hammond Sr. discoverer of , Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pete Seeger, Charlie Christian, Billy Holiday and Bruce Springsteen.
Throughout the 80’s James continued working and recording with band members Jimmy and Joey Voltaggio under the name “The Words”. Joey’s father an accomplished pianist who mentored Joey often played for President Kennedy at the white house.
Joey a pianist and guitarist played a regular gig at Johnny Cash’s Berkley Carteret Hotel lounge in Asbury Park NJ. across from Convention Hall.
While in Asbury James recruited Big Danny Gallagher to do dobro work on his songs and Danny brought in Mario Phillips in on electric. Big Danny seen here on the album cover with Bruce Springsteen was a great musician and very good friends with Bruce.
Their friendship dates back as far as before Bruce was signed to CBS Records.
Bruce was actually living with Danny at the time he was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond Sr.
Damiano’s first recording was a live studio cut with James on acoustic, Jimmy Voltaggio on electric guitar and Earnest Carter from The E Street Band on drums. It was titled “Where Are You Jesus”, pure and simple straight up rock and roll. Voltaggio’s riffs where electrifying and Earnest Carter’s drumming was relentless.
The song stood out musically for it’s immense hard driving intensity. James and the band who were working with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s producer and John Hammond’s assistant Mikie Harris, believed they delivered to CBS what they were looking for.
Mikie and Mr. Hammond partook in the excitement with the band until Mikie decided to drop the bomb and said she “wanted to stay away from what she considered to be religious songs” even though no one who has ever heard the song ever described it as religious.
Relating to the on going moral and political issues in the world today “Where Are You Jesus” becomes stronger every second as an evident and obvious chronicle regarding the confusion and greed of the world. Tested on the ears of Jaco Pastorius, Jaco loved the song so much that he walked around The Village for three consecutive weeks fifteen hours a day with the earphones of a sony walkman plastered to his head listening to “Where Are You Jesus”
The recording needs some refurbishing but can be heard on on the Justice album
Time was of the essence, James was trying to utilize Earnest Carter’s extraordinary talents as best and as fast as he could knowing Earnest Carter left Bruce Springsteen to go with David Sancious.
Managerial and finance concerns were an issue. Carter was still up for recording and the words were trying to put the deals together and did for some of the music
There was no telling where Boom (Earnest Carter) would end up. Finding a drummer like Boom was almost unheard of, he was hardly replaceable. Carter eventually ended up working with Billy Squire, Melanie, Paul Butterfield and many others…
When Cater left for LA, Damiano then recruited Ingo Martez, (John Bonham’s understudy). They recorded “Bury me in New York City” with Carolyn Mass on synthesizer, Tommy LaBella (Talkin Heads) on sax, James Damiano on acoustic guitar, Jimmy Voltggio on electric guitar and Walter Yardborough on bass.
Again another Damiano song stood out musically for it’s immense hard driving intensity.
In the mid 80’s Damiano recruited Big Danny Gallagher to do dobro work on his songs. Danny brought in Mario Phillips on electric. They recorded “Steel Guitars” originally titled “dignity” which was the basis of Bob Dylan’s 1996 Grammy nominated song “Dignity”
Damiano went on to record “My Cousin JoAnn” a bonafide monster of a rock and roll song only to become suspicious of CBS Records intentions…
Other affiliataions Bob Solberg guitar (Buddy Miles of Jimi Hendrix) John Doores Sax (youngest person ever to be offered a seat on the Tommy Dorsey Orchastra) Steve Gadd (Steele Dan), Peter Hartung (Peter Hartung Band) Gary Rottger piano & keys (Frank Zappa & The Fat Boys) Brian Draigo Bass (Broccile Rabe Studios) Tim Freeman synth (Freeman Philly Records) and Jaco Pastorius.
You’ll be able
The greatest story
Say the greatest line
Give the greatest
Find the greatest
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