James Douglas Wayne (born 3 March 1920, possibly deceased), who recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s as James Waynes, James Wayne, and Wee Willie Wayne, is an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and musician. He had a no.2 hit on the Billboard R&B chart in 1951 with the song "Tend To Your Business", and that year also recorded one of the earliest versions of the widely-performed song "Junco Partner".
Details of his life are obscure. He was born in Houston, Texas, although some sources state his birthplace as New Orleans. He claimed to have undertaken training as a commando, and spent time in jail around 1950 for burglary, before becoming a musician. He sang, played guitar, and reportedly also played drums.
He is believed to have first recorded in Houston, for the "Sittin' in with" record label started by Bob Shad. His recording of "Tend To Your Business" became a hit in 1951, and stayed on the R&B chart for 14 weeks. He followed it up with "Junco Partner (Worthless Man)" in 1952, recorded by Shad in Atlanta, Georgia. According to musician Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), Waynes' version made the song popular, although it was already widely known among musicians in New Orleans and elsewhere, as: "the anthem of the dopers, the whores, the pimps, the cons. It was a song they sang in Angola, the state prison farm, and the rhythm was even known as the 'jailbird beat'." In all, he recorded five singles for the "Sittin' in with" label, the first three credited to James Waynes, with a final "s".
Wayne then recorded with Lee Allen and other musicians for Imperial Records in New Orleans, before moving to the Aladdin label in Los Angeles, and then Old Town Records. He returned to Imperial in 1955, when he began to record as Wee Willie Wayne. One of his recordings there was "Travelin' Mood", which became another R&B standard recorded by Dr. John and others; the B-side was "I Remember", another classic recording. He also recorded for the Peacock and Angletone labels, before, in 1961, returning again to Imperial where he re-recorded an updated version of "Tend To Your Business", as part of an album, Travelin' Mood, mostly made up of earlier recordings.
He did not record after 1961. In February 1967, he was arrested after setting fire to a motel in South Central Los Angeles following an argument with its manager, and was charged on three felony counts. He was found to have had a history of alcoholism, and to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and was committed to a mental health institution. His claims of having been a successful musician were initially disbelieved by the authorities. He spent several years in the Atascadero State Mental Hospital in the early 1970s, before being released. In 1975 he was reportedly living in Los Angeles, but his later life is unknown.
A compilation LP, Travelin' From Texas To New Orleans, was issued by Sundown Records in about 1980. A CD compilation of the same title was issued in 2002.
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