Born into an all musical Leicestershire family, James Watson began playing the cornet with the Desford Colliery Band. by the time he was eleven years old he had become the Principal Cornet at Desford. FOr three years in succession in the 1960s he was the Junior Solo Champion of Great Britain and in 1966 he achieved the unique double by winning the senior title in the same year at only fourteen years of age.
After studying at the Royal Academy of Music, he was appointed Principal Trumpet at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra by Rudolf Kempe. He held the same position with the London Sinfonietta and the Nash Ensemble. After five years with the RPO he left to concentrate on playing solo and chamber music, most notably leading the legendary Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. From 1983 to 1990 James was the Principal Trumpeter at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. James has played on many original film soundtracks including The Star Wars Trilogy, Superman 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Jaws. He works regularly with commercial artists in the studio. These include Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tori Amos, The Levellers, and The Beautiful South. His recording of the Horovitz Trumpet Concerto was released by ASV last month and he can be heard regularly on TV soundtracks including the popular BBC TV programme 'Ground Force'.
James Watson is the Principal Conductor of the world famous Black Dyke Mills Band and in September 1996 he was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Youth Brass Band of Wales. In the same year he was awarded the Iles medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians for service to brass bands. In December 1997 James was awarded an honorary fellowship by the London College of Music and appointed visiting professor of woodwind, brass and percussion. He is professor of trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music and in 1989 the Academy honoured him with a fellowship. James is at present Head of Brass Ensembles at the Royal Academy of Music.