Santa Cruz native, James Durbin, rose swiftly to national attention in 2011 when his powerful hard rock vocal prowess propelled him to a fourth place finish on Season 10 of American Idol. Already a seasoned vocalist in a series of small West Coast metal and glam bands, Durbin rode his newfound success to a series of surprisingly versatile solo albums including 2014's pop-oriented Celebrate and 2018's rootsy, acoustic-leaning Homeland while faithfully honoring his hard rock roots as the lead singer of Quiet Riot.
Born in 1989, Durbin was raised in Santa Cruz, California, where he was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's syndrome at nine years old. Uncomfortable in social situations, he turned to music instead, developing a larger-than-life stage presence as part of a local theater group and singing lead with Hollywood Scars, a hair metal group inspired by Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses. By the time he auditioned for American Idol in 2011, he'd moved on to a new band called Whatever Fits. Singing rock songs by Queen, Muse, and Judas Priest, Durbin became one of the 10th season's leading contenders, earning comparisons to Adam Lambert (another high-voiced Idol alum) along the way. He finished fourth, joined the inevitable "American Idol Summer Tour" several weeks after the show's finale, and released an EP, American Idol Season 10 Highlights, in June 2011. Durbin's full-length studio debut, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, featuring the single "Love Me Bad," followed in November of 2011.
In 2014, Durbin moved in an even more pop-oriented direction with his sophomore album, Celebrate, which featured the single "Parachute." Following the release of a digital Christmas EP A Thrill of Hope in late 2015, he issued the harder-edged rock album, Riot on Sunset, in 2016 which he'd funded via a crowdfunding campaign. Continuing in the hard rock vein, he collaborated with Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi in a duo called Maps to the Hollywood Scars, which issued their first release, the five-song EP, Vol. 1, in early 2017. Not long after its release, it was revealed that Durbin had joined Quiet Riot as their new singer. His vocals were quickly added to their already-complete album Road Rage, which was released in August of that year. Changing tacks again, Durbin explored a more acoustic roots rock sound on his 2018 solo album, Homeland. Later that year, he offered up the lighthearted folky holiday single "It's Just Not Christmas Without You." ~ Andrew Leahey~ Rovi