James, Catherine 1950- (Catherine Dian James)

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James, Catherine 1950- (Catherine Dian James)


Born May 31, 1950, in Hollywood, CA; married Denny Laine (a musician; divorced); married and divorced second husband; children: Damian Christian.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


Author. Has worked as a nanny, model, movie scene painter, and actress stand-in.


Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Catherine James has led a tragic, yet very colorful life. In her memoir, Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit, she regales readers with everything from her childhood at the hands of abusive and neglectful parents to her teen pregnancy and her numerous experiences with American and British rock stars during the 1960s. James's parents divorced soon after she was born, and later the young girl discovered her father was a transvestite. Her mother, meanwhile, severely abused her, making her drink soap or hot sauce for punishments, or locking her in a closet so that her mother could then party with her friends. When James was eleven, she managed to run away, but she was caught and placed in an orphanage the following year; however, the young teen continued to escape confinement on the weekends. She found her way to the rock scene, and when she was only thirteen met Bob Dylan. By age fourteen, she had fled the orphanage for good and got a job as a nanny, working for Kingston Trio singer John Stewart. James, however, kept running, making her way to Greenwich Village in New York City, meeting rocker Denny Laine, and traveling with him to London. Her relationship with Laine was stormy, to say the least, and she was subjected to physical abuse and became pregnant with his child.

As a teen with a child, James still managed to live the high life. After divorcing Laine, she dated Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger and became an It Girl—a groupie—to rock stars and at pop artist Andy Warhol's famous Factory in New York City. James's second marriage ended badly as well, as her next husband was an alcoholic whom she eventually had to divorce as well. Through the 1960s, James continued to live a remarkable life. She hung out with such famous people as the Beatles, the Who, and Jackson Brown, the last of whom she also dated. She earned money by working a variety of jobs, including as a model and scenery painter.

While James's life might seem glamorous to an outsider, the author suffered through numerous bad, often abusive, relationships. Reviewers of Dandelion, however, praised the fact that she does not come across as self-pitying. "There's plenty of pain here, but little wallowing," as a Kirkus Reviews critic put it. Noting that many readers might find the book interesting for the many cameo appearances of famous performers, Dorris Douglass remarked in Library Journal that it is "the author's resourcefulness and strength of character" that really make the memoir worth the read. Dusty Wright, evaluating the book for the Culture Catch Web site, found it impossible to put down, stating that James "devastates with emotional sabotages that seem so outrageous that you swear you must be reading fiction. I read the advance copy in one sitting, blown away by the poignancy and ease with which Miss James shares her years of perilous plight." The critic concluded: "Her supremely dysfunctional family will remain with you long after you've finished this book."



James, Catherine, Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Dandelion.

Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Dorris Douglass, review of Dandelion, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of Dandelion, p. 42.


Catherine James Home Page,http://www.cate11.com (May 1, 2008).

Culture Catch,http://www.culturecatch.com/ (September 17, 2007), Dusty Wright, review of Dandelion.

My Lifetime,http://www.mylifetime.com/ (October 26, 2007), Carla Hay, review of Dandelion.

Official Catherine James Web site,http://www.officialcatherinejames.com (May 1, 2008).

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