James Last a început ca basist şi a activat cu Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra la începutul anilor 1950. În 1955, el s-a alăturat echipei de la Polydor Records, unde a ramas pentru urmatorii 30 de ani. La începutul anilor 1960, Last a inceput sa inregistreze in propriuul studio şi a inceput sa produca serios pentru Polydor. La început, el a acoperit o varietate de stiluri, pentru diverse instrumente.
Pentru acelasi motiv, înregistrările germane sunt pline de colaje, în care se trece de la o melodie la alta la fiecare 3-5 minute. Last a devenit un specialist in acest tip de colaje si a dat lovitura cand a sesizat ca poate sa faca un produs comercial, discotecile promovandu-le cu succes.
James Last a adăugat un element nou in acest tip de colaj, acestea se mixeaza în sunete de fundal de râsete, discutii, şi foloseste ritmul pentru a sugera o petrecere adevărată. In acest mod a lungit aceste medleys de la 5 minute la 15-20 minute fiecare.Casa de discuri Polydor a ambalat produsul „non-stop dance”.A fost un succes enorm. Acest gen nu a prins insa si in Statele Unite.
James a fost devotat Europei. El a vandut milioane de albume, are milioane de fani, şi s-au scris mai multe biografii despre acesta.
1929 – born on 17 April in Bremen, Germany
1939 – first piano lesson
1943 – Heeresmusikschule Bückeburg, favourite instrument: bass
1945 – he is one of the young people being interested in the new sounds of Jazz and Swing, coming from America. For this kind of music, the US-Army Radio AFN in Bremerhaven is the primary information source
1946 – together with his two brothers, Robert and Werner, he plays in the new founded Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra
1948 – the Last / Becker-Ensemble is being founded
1950 – in this and the following 2 years journalists of the German „Jazzpoll” – magazine elect James Last as the best bassman of the year
1955 – member of the NWDR dance orchestra
1956 – first arrangements for radio. Arrangeur for German stars as Freddy Quinn, Caterina Valente and Helmut Zacharias
1964 – record contract with Polydor
1965 – first LP „Non Stop Dancing”
1966 – composes „Games That Lovers Play”
1967 – four LP’s at the same time on top of the English charts
1968 – „Orchestra of the Year” – award by German record traders
1969 – tour of Canada; MlDEM-Trophy; „Most Favourite Orchestra” – award by the German „Musikpoll”; award as „Arrangeur of the Year”; German record award for his complete recording of the „Dreigroschenoper” (Fono Forum)
1970 – 1970 tours of Federal Republic of Germany and Denmark; the magazine „Musikmarkt” honours him for being the most successful instrumental interpret; most favourite orchestra in the German „Musikpoll”
1971 – 1971 tours of UK, Netherlands, Belgium; „Goldenes Grammophon” – award; „Silbermöwe” – award for being the most favourite artist in the easy-listening genre (Hamburger Abendblatt)
1974 – Europe-tour; Charity-Concert in Berlin (60.000 listeners); 4 Open-Air
1975 – Europe-tour; tour of East Asia, Australia and New Zealand; „Goldener Notenschlüssel” – award; „Goldene Westfalenhalle” – award; first record production in the USA: „Well Kept Secret”
1976 – tour of England and Ireland; „Dance into May” in Dortmund; tour of Scandinavia, Germany and Austria; „Star Of The Year” – award by the British magazines Music Week and Billboard
1977 – tour of Switzerland, England, Ireland and Holland; concert in Danzig; tour of German Democratic Republic; „Robert Stolz Award 1977” – in East Berlin
1978 – honoured with the „Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande” by Walter Scheel, the President of Western Germany
1979 – James Last receives „Goldene Kamera” from the magazine „Hör Zu”
1980 – receives his 150th Golden Record; tour of UK and the countries of the Far East; award by the US-magazine „Cashbox” for „The Seduction” the best intrumental production of the year.
1981 – great tour of Germany and England
1982 – single-hit with „Biscaya”. tour of Benelux, Scandinavia, South Africa
1983 – UK-tour; recording of the „Rose Of Tralee”; recording of the show „Die größten Songs der Beatles”; tour of Germany
1984 – UK-tour
1985 – concerts in the Royal Albert Hall in London
1986 – last of the legendary James Last costume-oarties in Hamburg; UK-tour
1987 – tour of UK, Ireland, Holland and Belgium; concerts in Eastern Germany; TV -show „Kinder unserer Welt” in West-Berlin
1988 – „ARD Wunschkonzert” – TV-show in Hannover; Great Britain-/Europe-tour
1989 – Open Air-event for his 60th birthday as a TV-show in Bremen; 5 concerts in the „Palast der Republik”, East-Berlin; 2 concerts in the Dresden „Semperoper” with René Kollo; Benelux-tour
1990 – invitation for a concert in the Royal Albert Hall
1991 – tour of Ireland, UK, Holland and Belgium; TV-show „Sonntagskonzert”; receives the „Goldene Stimmgabel” by the German TV-station ZDF as a special honour for his long-year international success
1992 – RTL TV-show „Musikrevue” with Peter Kraus in Zürich; TV-production „Eviva Espana” in Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada/Spain; tours of UK, Holland and Belgium
1994 – several TV-shows, e.g. „Christmas with James Last” (ZDF) with several artists like Milva, Richard Clayderman and Hans Clarin in the Basilika of Ottobeuren/Allgäu; receives the „Goldene Eins” – award
1995 – receives the „Echo 1994 Life Award” as a special honour for the life´s work of a German artist; tours of UK, Belgium and Holland; TV-production of the „Beach Party” in Key Biscayne/Florida
1996 – returns to German stages: first tour in Germany after 10 years! Great success! production of two new records with Russian melodies and the latest hits
1997 – Germany-tour (16 concerts), his wife Waltraud dies
1999 – after a great concert in the Royal Albert Hall, London: celebration of James Last´s 70th birthday in presence of his family, orchestra, numerous representatives of the Polydor, his management and lots of friends and fans!
Great tour of Europe with approximately 50 concerts in Germany, UK, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Netherlands. 150.000 tickets sold – the most successful tour production of the year! 3 new CDs! wedding with his wife Christine in June.
2000 – his life´s work is being honoured; 8th September: receives the very first and new founded award „Platin Stimmgabel” „The Gentleman of Music takes America!”: The James Last-show is being shown by all important TV stations with great success all over the USA.
2001 – great UK-tour: back in Ireland again after 15 years! release of 2 new albums: in spring „Gentleman of Music” – live-CD, video and for the first time as DVD! … and in autumn „ABBA”
2002 – Germany-Arena-tour in spring, 26 concerts. Production of „A world of Music” for PBS, Video and DVD in Zwickau/Germany. First & sensational tour in China in September! Great Europe-tour in October / November, 28 concerts