Joined July 9, 1946, as a clarinetist
Assistant Director Oct. 5, 1956-May 1, 1968
James B. King, Jr., joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in July 1946 as a clarinetist. He was appointed an Assistant Director and commissioned a first lieutenant in 1956. First Lieutenant King became the first junior Assistant Director after President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed a law on July 24, 1956 establishing commisioned ranks for the Marine Band Directors and billets for two Assistant Directors.
King, a graduate of Haverford Township High School in Havertown, Pa., attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he was selected as the clarinet soloist for the Westinghouse Radio Program as well as soloist with Curtis Institute Orchestra. His first conducting experience was with the National Youth Administration Orchestra. Following his graduation from Curtis, King performed with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in Columbia, S.C., and the Philadelphia Opera Company. Prior to joining “The President’s Own,” he served in the U.S. Army Special Services field as a musical director.
As Assistant Director, King led the band on its concert tour in 1957 and in the fall of 1959, was invited to be the first to conduct live music at the presidential retreat at Camp David during three days of diplomatic talks between President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. That was the first of many performances by King and the Marine string ensemble. He conducted at the White House for the leaders of Greece, Germany, Cambodia, and Burma, earning frequent praise from President and Mrs. Eisenhower. When the Marine Band was selected to musically represent the United States at the 1960 Olympic Games at Squaw Valley, Calif., King conducted performances during the two week stay as host band.