Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


WELLS, HENRY JAMES (1906–?). 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).

Dave Oliphant

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Dave Oliphant, "WELLS, HENRY JAMES," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.