Maroon 5, the American pop-rock band has been blowing up our airwaves for several years. As with any team effort, there are those whose efforts sometimes go unnoticed. In this case, one of many important cogs in the wheel of Maroon 5 is their lead guitarist James Valentine. Having played in a number of bands during his more than a ten-year career in the music industry, we take a look at his biography to learn more about the events and experiences that made him the musician he is today.
James Valentine Biography
He was born on October 5, 1978, in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, as one of five children of 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 father, Robert, was a professor of Latin American literature at Brigham Young University, and his mother, Shauna, was a teacher who had to give up her day job to care for her children. She was also a former beauty queen. The Valentine family was a devout Mormon family as they attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Young Valentine attended many church services as a child, and during this time he began to play the piano. He attended Lincoln Southeast High School and was an Eagle Scout. A popular figure among the students, he also managed to lead 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 mentioned earlier, Valentine was interested in playing the piano as a child, but his first interest was in drums. However, he switched to playing the guitar, and it was with the stringed instruments that he found fame. One of his first big gigs during his high school days was an invitation to play with the University of Nebraska Jazz Ensemble.
Valentine was often seen with several bands in Lincoln, some of which were Montag, Mondello, Kid Quarkstar, and Happy Dog. Happy Dog later became The Square, and with them, he moved to Southern California in 2000. In LA he made ends meet by organizing private guitar lessons for music enthusiasts. Kara’s Flowers was in a rebranding phase at the time, and James Valentine was helping out as a guitar teacher. Later he was approached as lead guitarist for the band. Square was in a period of tension and upheaval, and Valentine left the band to join Kara’s Flowers, which was later renamed Maroon 5.
The band consists of Ryan Dusick, Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, and James Valentine. Maroon 5 soon released their debut album, whose songs were inspired by Adam Levine as a direct result of their recently failed relationship. The album was entitled Songs About Jane.
John Mayer, one of Valentine’s Connects from his time at Berklee College of Music, played a key role in the release of Maroon 5, and 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 on the world stage was steady.
Apart from his commitments with Maroon 5, James Valentine was also part of another band, JJAMZ. The band consists of James Valentine from Maroon 5, Jason Boesel from Rilo Kiley/Conor Oberst, Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet, Michael Runion as a soloist, 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 gangs. James was later forced to leave the band due to his commitments with Maroon 5, but this was not until the release of their first album Suicide Pact in 2012. When Valentine left the band, JJAMZ changed his name to Phases.
Throughout his career, James Valentine has managed to carve out a niche for himself as one of the most successful and talented guitarists of his time. He has received numerous awards and albums on which his funky rifts can be heard all over the world. Besides playing the guitar, James is also talented as a percussionist.