Maroon 5, the American pop-rock band has been blowing up our airwaves for a few years now. As it is with every team effort, there are those whose efforts sometimes go unnoticed. In this case, one of many important cogs in the Maroon 5 wheel is its lead guitarist James Valentine. Having played in a number of bands during his career in the music industry, a career that has stretched on for more than a decade, we take a look at his biography in a bid to find out more about the events and experiences that have led him to be the musician he is today.
James Valentine Biography
Born on October 5, 1978, in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, he was one of five children born to his mother, a former beauty queen. His full birth name is James Burgon Valentine. He was one of five darlings born to Robert Young Valentine and Shauna Burgon Valentine. They had two boys and three girls.
His dad, Robert, was a Professor of Latin American literature at Brigham Young University and his mom, Shauna, was a school teacher who had to quit her day job to take care of her kids. She was a former beauty queen as well. The Valentine family was a devout Mormon family as they attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The young Valentine engaged in a lot of services while he was a child and it was during this period that he began playing the piano. He attended the Lincoln Southeast High School and was an Eagle Scout. As a popular figure among students, he also managed to head the Student Council as President.
When it was time to go to college, he attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He also attended Berklee College. As stated earlier, Valentine was interested in playing the piano as a kid but his first interest was the drums. He, however, moved on to playing the guitar and it was with the string instruments that he found fame. One of his first major gigs while in high school was an invitation to play with the University of Nebraska jazz ensemble.
Valentine was often spotted with a few bands in Lincoln, some of them included Montag, Mondello, Kid Quarkstar, and Happy Dog. Happy Dog later metamorphosed to The Square and it was with them that he relocated to Southern California in 2000. In LA, he made ends meet by organizing private guitar lessons for music enthusiasts. Kara’s Flowers at the time was in a period of rebranding and James Valentine was helping as a guitar teacher. He was later approached to be the lead guitarist for the band. The Square was having a period of tension and upheaval and Valentine left to join Kara’s Flowers which was later renamed Maroon 5 soon after.
The band is comprised of Ryan Dusick, Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, and James Valentine. Maroon 5 soon released their debut album, with the songs inspired as a direct consequence of the recently failed relationship of Adam Levine. The album was titled Songs About Jane.
One of Valentine’s connections from his days at Berklee College of music, John Mayer played a key role in the exposure of Maroon 5. Their fame began to grow when they played an opening slot for Mayer’s 2003 summer tour. From that point on, the rise of Maroon 5 has been steady on the global stage.
Aside from his commitments to Maroon 5, James Valentine was also part of another band, JJAMZ. The band is composed of James Valentine from Maroon 5, Jason Boesel from Rilo Kiley/Conor Oberst, Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet, Michael Runion who is solo, and Z Berg from The Like. The group name is an acronym formed from the first letters of each member’s name.
The group was formed as an escape from their respective bands. James had to later quit the band due to his commitments with Maroon 5, but that was not before they released their first album Suicide Pact in 2012. By the time Valentine left the band, JJAMZ changed its name to Phases.
Throughout his career, James Valentine has managed to carve a niche for himself as one of the most successful and gifted guitarists of his day. He has been a recipient of numerous awards and albums containing his funky rifts abound across the globe. Aside from playing the guitar, James is also gifted as a percussionist.