James Valentine is best known as the guitarist for Los Angeles-based pop/rock outfit Maroon 5. Hailing from Lincoln, NE, he was born on October 5, 1978, into a Mormon family, attending church on a regular basis while growing up. First learning piano as a child, Valentine briefly tried out the drums before finally picking up a guitar and falling in love with it. He was a natural and was invited to play with the University of Nebraska jazz ensemble as a high-school student; in addition, he won plenty of music-related awards over the years and was offered various scholarships upon graduation. Valentine played in a few area bands as a teenager, and eventually relocated to southern California in 2000 with his band, Square. It was around this same time that the band Kara's Flowers were reexamining their musical direction and demoing songs for their new label. Valentine was introduced to the group through mutual friends, and though initially just asked to be their guitar tech during recording sessions, was ultimately extended a formal invitation to join. Valentine subsequently made his exit from Square, and thus completed the newly christened Maroon 5. Writing a slew of songs directly inspired by lead singer Adam Levine's recently failed relationship, Maroon 5 released their debut album, the aptly titled Songs About Jane, in June 2002. The band's popularity steadily increased; by mid-decade, they had risen to the forefront of popular music.
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