Francis ‘Frank’ James was the author of the 1998 ‘bible’ for EMG collectors, The EMG Story. He was also a treasured friend and advisor to countless gramophone collectors.
Through his iconic book, Frank shone a light on the little-known history of the very British company that built the world’s best bespoke gramophones. His meticulous research to uncover the intrigue and shenanigans that surrounded the production of these giant-horned gramophones has become legendary.
This selfless dedication to preserving British history was a hallmark of Frank’s life. Not only did he bring us The EMG Story, he also spent a large part of his life in the restoration of dilapidated historic buildings. He saw a desperate need to preserve the quality and integrity of the past, for future generations to study and learn from. He often lamented the throwaway consumerism of modern society, and wanted to celebrate and enlighten his community about the skilful workmanship of the past. I’ve heard him describe himself as a “Luddite”, but in fact he was more of a teacher who believed in education through deeds. This he did gloriously.
Looking at some of the before and after pictures of his work in building restoration clearly points to a man with singular vision and dedication. I once asked him how he found time to do restoration work, write books, and run a farm full time. With typical humility, he said it was all down to his wife, Jan. I will always remember having a delicious homemade lunch with the pair of them. The best British bangers & mash and the best British cheeses.
I was honoured to be offered Frank’s personal collection of EMG gramophones. He knew I would expand it and keep it together. There will be an EMG museum one day dedicated to the memory of Francis James – the EMG guru.
For posterity, the James family has kindly agreed to give The EMG Story in PDF format to anyone who wishes to read it.
Forum link: FRANK JAMES 1940-2020.
Known books published by Francis James: