Wells, Henry James (1906–unknown)

By: Dave Oliphant

Type: Biography

Published: December 8, 2006

Henry James Wells, jazz trombonist and vocalist, was born in Dallas in 1906. Wells studied music at Fisk University in Nashville and at the Cincinnati Conservatory. As a trombonist and vocalist he recorded with two of the important bands of the Swing Era, Jimmie Lunceford and Andy Kirk. In 1926 he was with the Boston Serenaders from Memphis, and from 1929 to 1935 he was with the Lunceford Orchestra. Featured regularly by the Kirk Orchestra as a vocalist, he soloed on trombone on a number of Lunceford recordings, including "Jazznocracy" (1934).

During this time he also worked with the Cab Calloway and Claude Hopkins bands. He joined up with Andy Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy in 1936 and remained with this group until 1939, when he left to form his own big band, which soon folded. Wells worked then with Gene Krupa and Teddy Hill, and in September 1940 he rejoined the Kirk Orchestra. After serving in World War II, he returned to work briefly with Kirk before joining Rex Stewart's band in 1946, after which he was a member of Sy Oliver's band until 1948. In the 1960s Wells was active in music in California, but during that same decade he disappeared from the records.

John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, 4th ed. (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985).


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)


  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dave Oliphant, “Wells, Henry James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wells-henry-james.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 8, 2006

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