James Julien

photo by Jonathan Postal

by Michael Beason

Dec. 25, 2006 -- James Howard Julien passed away in Schneider Hospital on Dec. 16, 2006, at 3:10 in the afternoon, after a brief struggle with liver disease. He was 58 years old, born in Richland, Wash., in 1948.

James lived on St. John from 1985 to 1993, moving first to Florida then back to Seattle, Wash. He returned to St. John in 2002.

In 2004 he had a struggle with cancer of the lymphatic system, but after nine months of chemotherapy it went into remission, and his friends had hoped to have him around a lot longer. The hepatitis was apparently unrelated to the lymphoma.
In 2005 he had recovered enough to sail his boat, Mandolyn Wind, in the Thanksgiving Regatta, winning in his class.

He was a fine-finish carpenter by trade, an accomplished sailor, a good actor and an extraordinary musician. He played mandolin, guitar and piano, and sang leads and harmonies, especially bass, though his broad vocal range allowed him to sing tenor as well. His unerring sense of harmony and quick ear made him a sought-after side man, and he played with almost every musician on St. John at one time or another. He also sang with the St. John Singers, but is probably best remembered as a founding member of the St. John Iguanas.

On his return to St. John he joined Epiphany Theater Company, acting in "Feiffer's People," "The Fantasticks," "The Midlife Crisis of Dionysus" and "Quarrel." He also worked as sound technician for "Better'n'Nuttin'" and, most recently, "Billy Shakespear's Christmas Extravaganza and Traveling Freak Show." It was in the midst of this last production that he became ill with the liver condition that caused his death. Sick though he was, he ran sound for two of the three performances, just a week before he died.

Down through the years he played at countless benefits, always volunteering his energy for any good cause. He also donated his time and expertise to the Animal Care Center, working many hours with Paula Myles to build relocation cages for their cat spay, neuter and release program.

A benefit to raise money for his funeral expenses will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Island Blues. Any money raised above what is necessary to send him on his way will go to the Karen Barrett fund to help in her recovery from the tragic accident in which James was involved.

There will be a memorial service for James on board Silver Cloud on Jan. 21, time to be announced. All musicians who ever played or sang with James are invited to attend, along with his friends, to help us sing him on his way. His ashes will be scattered in the sea he loved so much.

He is survived by his father, James; his two brothers, William and Robert; his sister, Linda Bricker; and his countless friends, who will miss him sorely.

Farewell old friend. We wish you fair skies, the wind at your back, and a following sea.

- St. John Source
St. John, US Virgin Islands

photo by Jonathan Postal