Jaime St. James
By Maya Dawn Henderson
To think of Jaime St. James, right off, you’ll probably think of his powerful, kickin’ rock voice, matched with that signature blonde, curly mane of hair. Until recently, Jaime was probably best-known as the boomin’ voice fronting Black ‘n Blue. Their famous 80’s rock hits included “Hold On To 18”, “School of Hard Knocks and Wicked Bitch”. To meet Jaime, you’re sure laugh hysterically ~ this guy is a natural-born comedian. You’ll also probably be surprised how open and friendly this renown rocker is in real life. If you’ve seen him perform live, then you already know his dynamic, kick-ass, “wake-up-the-room” style. I had a chance to chat with Jaime over margaritas at Casa Vega recently and get the low-down. He says “he’s never been happier” and credits that to his latest gig as Warrant’s new front man. “There’s a hell of a lot goin’ on with this project. Of all the albums I’ve been a part of in all my life, I can honestly say I’m most proud of this!” That says a lot because Jaime’s had quite the history.
Now, a legendary front man, Jaime St. James self-started his own career through his love for music as a young kid growing up in Oregon. Interestingly enough, he didn’t start as a vocalist, but as a drummer. At 14, he joined his high school marching band and even went to the state’s Rose Parade with them. All the while, playing drums with a local, “Molly Hatchet-esque” rock band at night. This was far before he was old enough to even be in the bars he was playing. He remembers being asked to sit quietly in the back of the room in order to not bring attention to his under-age-self. Strongly influenced by legends such as Thin Lizzy, David Bowie and Cheap Trick, he’ll outwardly admit his straight hero-worship for the Beatles.
Eventually Jaime made the life-changing transition from drumming into singing when starting up Black ‘n Blue. How’d that happen? “It was an accident”, he answered. “I was drunk and jumped on the mic and they all thought I was great. If it wasn’t for booze I’d still be a god-damned drummer. Take that to AA!”
Black ‘n Blue formed in Jaime’s hometown, Portland, Oregon. It was 1981 and the lineup was Jaime St. James (vocals), Tommy Thayer (guitar), Jeff Warner (guitar), Patrick Young (bass), and Peter Holmes (drums). They moved to Los Angeles in 1982. In 1983, Black‘n Blue was playing around LA, packing clubs like The Troubadour, The Roxy, The Whiskey, and The Country Club. “These were great rock ‘n roll times”, Jaime recalled. “The strip was alive with a metal frenzy, like it probably never will again” He
was right about that. The labels in LA were about to go metal crazy due to the success of Def Leppard, Quiet Riot, and Motley Crue. “I remember just getting here in LA and seeing Randy Rhoads playing with Quiet Riot at the Starwood and I saw Phil Lynott in the audience!” Black ‘n Blue released their self-titled debut album, “Black ‘n Blue” on Geffen Records in 1984. They were actually one of the first three metal acts to be signed, following Quiet Riot and Motley Crue. Thus of course, paving the way for a plethora of 80’s metal bands to follow that decade. That same year Black ‘n Blue found themselves on Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” Tour. They were quickly establishing their own huge, dedicated fan base, which still exists to this day. In 1985, they went on to support the KISS Asylum Tour with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr & Bruce Kulick. In between touring with other big acts, such as Night Ranger ’86, Queensryche ’86 -’87, Lita Ford and Yngwie Malmsteen ’87, they played many shows on their own and toured around the country. Black ‘n Blue eventually disbanded in1989.
After that, Jaime put his own project together and called it Freight Train Jane. along with cohort Tommy Bolin, formerly of Warlock. Freight Train Jane was a short-lived, but it got a lot of exposure and a record deal in Japan. It ended up being an awesome record that fans still ask him to sign out on the road today. Curious, I asked “Did Freight Train Jane ever tour?” “Yes. Yes we did. We did an amazing tour of FM Station!”
A little later on, Jaime got to play his drums again, this time in full make-up. Cold Gin was a bit of a phenomenon in LA, put together by Tommy Thayer, Marc Ferrari and Anthony White. Tommy knew Jaime could was great playing 70’s rock drums…This was way before anyone else was doing tributes. In fact, Cold Gin may well have been the very first tribute band around. It was Jaime’s suggestion that they do the full-make up. He said “If we’re gonna do this, we might as well go all the way. We can either be the kings of Hollywood . . or the goats . . .and I ain’t no f*#kin’ goat!….” So he sported the kitty-cat make up and became Peter Chris. Ironically, becoming pretty much the biggest thing in LA at the time.
During the 90’s, Jaime took some time away from his music career. In the early 90’s, he actually taught himself to be an electrician to help support himself in between his music ventures. After buying a home in Ohio, he actually owned and operated a dog-kennel. While in Ohio, he was inspired again, and went on to form his own band, “St. James”. They released a CD and went on an “RV Tour” around the US. Without realizing, Jaime was putting himself on the map to musical success once again.
Most recently, he’s reinvented himself as the new front man of Warrant. A mutual friend thought Jaime’s voice would be a good fit for the band in need of a new singer. It ended up being a great call. I happened to be at that audition and saw it all happen. Jaime belted out one song and instant smiles crept on everyone’s faces. They’d found their new front man. “It’s just a great fit”. Since joining Warrant in 2004, they’ve successfully toured all over the nation, bringing back tunes like 32 Pennies, Down Boys and Bed of Roses. They’ve been touring nationwide, blowing away everyone they play for. Warrant still consists of Jerry Dixon on bass, Erik Turner and Joey Allen on guitars and the talented Steven Sweet on drums and backing vocals. Jaime is also writing with Warrant now. Their new CD, appropriately named “Born Again” is do out in Spring of 2006.
Watch for it. Listen for it. It will kick ass, as it’s a heavier version of what you’d think . . . these guys ain’t bullshittin! Some of the tracks include, “Devil’s Juice” a title Jaime got from his Mom. (Everyone has their own “devil’s juice”). An amazing tune done completely by Jerry Dixon, called “Dirty Jack”. One of Jaime’s favorites, is new ballad named “Glimmer”, that he describes as lyrically being an amazing song.
Currently, Warrant is on a German label called MTM Records. They plan on bringing Warrant to Europe in the near future. Of course, they’ll also be touring all over America all Summer and are in discussions of being grouped with other big 80’s rock acts. For more dirt on Jaime check out his website at www.stjamesofficial.com