James Timothy Pursey (born 9 February 1955) is an English singer and record producer. He was the founder and frontman of the English punk rock band, Sham 69, and has played with them from 1976 to 1980; from 1986 to 2006; and from 2011 to the present day.
Pursey was born in Hersham, Surrey in 1955. His father was in the army and later worked as a plumber and his mother worked as a cinema usherette. He was educated at Hersham House & Burhill Infants, Hersham Juniors and Rydens School, leaving aged 15 to work in a curtain shop.
He was a regular attender at the local disco, the 'Walton Hop' at the Playhouse theatre, where he met Jonathan King. Pursey claimed that he began performing after taking the stage as a drunk fourteen-year-old at the disco and miming to Bay City Rollers and The Rolling Stones songs (miming contests were a regular event at the Hop). He formed Sham 69 in 1976, inspired by The Ramones and initially called Jimmy and the Ferrets, along with Albie Slider, Billy Bostik and Neil Harris, while employed at Wimbledon Stadium, and they rehearsed at Slider's parents' pig farm, where King sometimes came to watch them. The band released four albums and had six UK top 50 hits before splitting up in 1980 (after several splits in 1979 that proved to be temporary) with the violence that regularly marred their gigs taking its toll. Pursey briefly worked with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols as Sham Pistols before the final Sham 69 split, and embarked on a solo career. Pursey also worked as a record producer, on early releases by Cockney Rejects and Angelic Upstarts.
Pursey's first solo releases were on Polydor Records, the label that Sham 69 had been signed to - the "Lucky Man" single and Imagination Camouflage album. He then moved to Epic Records for three further singles (including "Animals Have More Fun", co-written with Peter Gabriel) and second solo album Alien Orphan. In 1983, a third album, Revenge is not the Password was issued on the Code Black label, and occasional releases followed until he formed a new line-up of Sham 69 in 1986 along with guitarist from the band's most successful line-up, Dave Parsons. Pursey released a fourth solo album in 1997 (Code Black). Sham 69 continued to play live and record until 2006. In 2006, Pursey recorded a new version of the Sham 69 hit "Hurry Up Harry" as an unofficial World Cup song in aid of a cancer charity; "Hurry Up England" was recorded with Graham Coxon's band but credited to 'Sham 69 & the Special Assembly'.
On 26 January 2007, BBC News announced that the band had split because of a bitter fallout between Pursey and guitarist Parsons.NME reported that a statement released by Parsons included the message: "Sham 69 have left Jimmy Pursey on the eve of their 30th anniversary." Pursey initially stated that he would be retaining the Sham 69 name, but on 21 Jan 2008, he announced that "to avoid confusion to fans he wanted it known that he did not want to be associated with the band still performing as Sham 69" and had formed a new band Day 21 with Mat Sargent on bass, The Rev (Towers of London and The Prodigy) on guitar, and Snell (Towers of London). Pursey also paints, selling his work to raise money for the Hersham Hounds greyhound sanctuary.
Pursey had been due to appear as a contestant on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in 2008, but pulled out after finding out that he would have been a late entrant to the camp and concerned that he would be portrayed as a "trouble-making punk".
In July 2011 Pursey made the decision to reform Sham 69 with the original lineup. A meeting held between Pursey and Dave Parsons, original Sham 69 guitarist and co-writer of nearly all of the Sham repertoire with Pursey, ironed out their differences. Dave Tregunna, on bass, and Mark Cain, on drums, were called in to complete the lineup for a special show in London.