Legendary Huddersfield Town manager Neil Warnock asked teenage musician James Leslie to play at his farewell to the club.
The 19-year-old singer songwriter stunned the audience at Huddersfield Town Hall with his music ability.
And now, we can reveal, he only picked up a guitar for the first time during the pandemic lockdown. He taught himself to play it watching YouTube videos and is now gigging at least three times a week after doing his first one just nine months ago.
James, of Almondbury, is also writing his own songs which he now plays in his electro acoustic sets and aims to record them later this year.
Yet his first gig happened almost by accident.
He was at a wedding and when one of the guests found out he played guitar and asked if he did gigs as he knew a pub needing some live music.
James said he’d never played live but would give it a go and the next thing he knew he was on stage at the Anvil Arms in Darton near Barnsley playing his first show.
That was nine months ago and since joining a Yorkshire agency called Real Live Music the gigs have started to roll in – so much so that he did seven over the Coronation weekend.
Apart from pubs and clubs James does weddings and birthdays and asks them if they have a favourite song. If it’s not already in his set then he learns it in time for the gig.
James was taking a year out before going to university but has now decided to concentrate on his music instead.
He’s so glad he did as Neil Warnock’s agent contacted him and said Neil wanted him to do some songs before he went on stage at the town hall on Friday, May 12.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said James. “I even asked them if they were sure they’d got the right person.”
James had started to become known among football fans after he played in a fanzone outside Hillsborough and then outside the John Smith’s Stadium before Town’s game against Sheffield United when they secured safety in the Championship.
James said: “Being backstage in the town hall with Neil Warnock, Ronnie Jepson and Danny Ward was surreal and gave me a sense of imposter syndrome. I couldn’t believe they’d asked me to be there and to be part of it.”
James’ parents are Sarah and Craig Leslie and his grandad is Huddersfield entrepreneur and philanthropist Prof Graham Leslie CBE, who is a former Huddersfield Town chairman, was one of the prime movers behind the new stadium in the 1990s and the pharmaceutical company he founded, Galpharm, was a stadium sponsor and bore its name for eight years from 2004 to 2012.
Graham loves music and has even busked in the town centre for charity.
He’s a composer these days and although he goes to watch James’ gigs they’ve not got together to make music … yet.
“He’s a very busy man,” said James. “We’ll probably collaborate on some music at some point as he also plays guitar.
“I doubt I’ll go to university now. I’m having so much fun travelling around gigging. Music is what I do best so I’ll give it a go as much as I can.”
His summer is packed out with gigs – he doesn’t have a free Saturday again until October – and plays throughout Yorkshire.
The first riff he learned was Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love and the first song he taught himself was Beautiful Crazy by Luke Combs. His favourite artists include The 1975 and Machine Gun Kelly.
James is also singer and guitarist in Holmfirth rock band Gruber.
To book James go through his Instagram which is James_leslie_music, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go through the Real Live Music agency on Facebook.
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.