was the Beatles
' music publisher.
Born Richard Leon Isaac Vapnick in 1927, James entered the music business as a singer, and for several years had little success, until in 1955 he recorded (with George Martin producing) the theme tune to the TV series Robin Hood.
This song ('Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen/Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men/feared by the bad, loved by the good/Robin Hood, Robin Hood') was a huge success, entering British folk consciousness to the extent that I know the lyrics off by heart and I wasn't born til 20 years after the show went off the air. The song was also famously parodied by the Monty Python team in the Dennis Moore sketch.
Shortly after this, James set up his own music publishing company, Dick James Music (DJM). This was moderately successful, but really took off when James' former producer George Martin introduced him to two new songwriters named John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Despite not thinking much of their writing, James signed them on the basis of their previous hit single, Love Me Do, and with them set up Northern Songs, a publishing company which was owned 50% by DJM with the rest split between Lennon, McCartney and Brian Epstein's company NEMS. Northern published every Lennon/McCartney song from Please Please Me on, and thus became one of the most successful companies of the 60s.
James also published songs by Epstein's other atists, such as Gerry and The Pacemakers, usually through the jointly owned JaEp company.
James sold his stock in Northern Songs to ATV in the late 60s, after becoming staggeringly wealthy from his interest in the company, but around that time also managed to bring together two other fairly successful writers - Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin.
While he was responsible for their songwriting partnership - and thus quite probably for Elton John's success - 'accounting irregularities' and an unfair contract led Elton John to sue James in the early 80s, by which time James had more or less retired.
James died in 1986, having been associated more or less by chance with the two most successful songwriting partnerships ever to come out of Britain.