Casey James Biography
James was born in Plano, Texas on May 31, 1982 to Debra "Bybee" and Beau James. The family moved to Princeton, Texas, but after his parents divorced when James was about four, his mother raised him and his brother Billy Cole in Cool, Texas. James had a bad reaction to his pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine when he was an infant, and his family feared brain damage. According to his mother, however, she realized that he would be all right and was going to be musical when he started humming the theme song from M*A*S*H.
James started playing the guitar at 13 and within a year was playing on stage. James has played acoustic sets with his mother, and blues with his older brother. He has also played with country and rock bands. At the age of 21, he was in a serious motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He was told by his doctor that he would no longer be able to play guitar, a medical prediction that proved untrue. During the American Idol hometown visits, James returned to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries and presented an autographed guitar to his surgeon, Dr. Cory Collinge.
Before American Idol, he played with his band, The Casey James Band, consisting of James, his brother, Billy Cole (bass), and Jacy McCann (drums). They recorded four songs, including the first song that James ever wrote, "Freezing," back in 2002.
James cites blues guitarist Doyle Bramhall II as a major musical influence and whom he would most like to perform with in his Idol Q&A. Another major influence is Stevie Ray Vaughan; James named Vaughan's In the Beginning (1992) as a formative album in his early years.
I got an album called “In the Beginning” and I learned every note on it, which was easier to do because it was early on in his career [it was recorded in 1980]. I learned all those notes and it opened me up to the blues. When you look what he was doing, a lot of it was covers, and then you go back and start listening to those guys -- the originals Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins -- those influences changed me, too.
Other influences cited in the article are southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pearl Jam.
James was a contestant on American Idol during its ninth season. He made it to the Top 3 before being eliminated on May 19, 2010. James had tried out for and been selected to compete in the ninth season of Idol in 2009 in spite of the fact that he had never seen the show. He was the oldest contestant to be selected for the Top 24 of the ninth season at the age of 27. James was voted off of the competition on May 19, 2010, and finished in third place. During the finale of American Idol, he performed a duet of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" with Bret Michaels.
USA Today music critic Brian Mansfield suggested that James was "the best guitar player the show [American Idol] has seen."