James Claude Sudduth was born on October 19, 1940, in Crosbyton, Texas. He grew up there and attended Crosbyton public schools. His music career began when his mother secretly sold eggs to pay for piano lessons. He had to hitch rides into town for those lessons. While growing up on the farm near Crosbyton, he played in his family’s country band, which consisted of his brothers David, Richard, and Charles.
Jim attended Texas Tech University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. He then taught seven years in the Lubbock Independent School District beginning the successful band programs at both Mackenzie Junior High School, and Coronado High School.
In 1970, Jim was appointed by John P. Paynter as Assistant Director of Bands in charge of the Wildcat Marching Band, and Assistant Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While there, James served on the staff of new-music reviews for The Instrumentalist magazine. In 1974, he was hired as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and held that position until 1981. In the fall of 1981 he was appointed Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He conducted the University Symphony Orchestra, and was guest conductor of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra for The Nutcracker Ballet, and the annual “pops” concerts on several occasions.
Jim received several honors during his career including being named to “Who’s Who in the South and Southwest” in 1976; honored by Omicron Delta Kappa and Mortar Board for outstanding service to Texas Tech University in 1982; received the National Citation of Excellence from Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America for outstanding contributions to music in 1985; first American conductor invited to guest conduct the Seoul Wind Ensemble in Seoul, Korea, in 1988; awarded the Distinguished Service to Music Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed by Kappa Kappa Psi, the National honorary band fraternity, for contributing “above and beyond” of himself and his talents to help bands and band music grow in both performance and purpose in 1995; honored by Texas Tech University with an award for fifteen years of continuing commitment as Director of Bands in 1996; and was named “Teacher of the Year” by the Texas Tech chapters of Phi Mu Alpha and Mu Phi Epsilon in 1997. These honors attest to the tremendous impact he had on the many students who were fortunate enough to come under his influence.
Jim was a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, College Band Directors National Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity, Phi Kappa Lambda, and was an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma honorary fraternities.
Jim wrote over 300 arrangements, transcriptions, and compositions for both marching and concert band, many of which are published by RBC Music Company and Southern Music Company both of San Antonio, Texas.
Jim was married for 35 years to the former Lynda Jordan of Amarillo. She now teaches vocal music and theatre in the San Antonio area. His son and daughter-in-law, Toby and Holly, are graphic designers in San Francisco. His son Jason plays second oboe in the San Jose Symphony and is first substitute for the San Francisco Symphony.
Jim’s spirit and love of music will live forever in the hearts of his friends, family, and students.