Union J (originally Triple J) are an English boy band consisting of members Josh Cuthbert, JJ Hamblett, Jaymi Hensley, Casey Johnson and previously George Shelley. They were formed in 2011 and originally a trio, consisting of Cuthbert, Hamblett and Hensley then, Shelley was later added to the group in 2012 through the ninth series of British television music competition The X Factor, in which they finished fourth. They subsequently signed a record deal with Sony Music subsidiary RCA Records, and released their debut single "Carry You" in June 2013. Their self-titled debut studio album, Union J, followed in October 2013 and peaked at number six on the UK Albums Chart.

In April 2014, Union J left RCA and signed with Epic Records.[2] Their second studio album You Got It All – The Album was released in December 2014. It was preceded by the lead single "Tonight (We Live Forever)" and "You Got It All".

In March 2016 Shelley left the band and in May 2016 Casey Johnson was announced as the new member of Union J.


Formation and The X Factor (2011–12)

In 2007, Blair Dreelan of Alpha Dog Management met 14-year-old Josh Cuthbert, who was auditioning for the fourth series of The X Factor. Cuthbert failed to get through to the next round, but Dreelan believed that he looked like a pop star and was impressed by his voice: "I began to sort of work with him on various little projects like just sort of recording stuff because I've got a recording studio in Swindon."[3] In 2011, Cuthbert and Jaymi Hensley met whilst studying performing arts at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Westminster and later decided to put a band together. Former jockey Jamie "JJ" Hamblett[4] was later added to the group by Dreelan, and they named themselves Triple J (due to each member sharing the same initial).[3]

In May 2012, after eight months together, Triple J and soloist George Shelley both auditioned in London for the ninth series of The X Factor. Triple J performed Rihanna's international hit "We Found Love", whilst George covered an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "Toxic" – in which he also incorporated his guitar. Both acts progressed to the next stage of the competition, receiving positive critique from all judges present.[5] Bootcamp saw Shelley perform Labrinth's "Earthquake", competing against female contestants; Charlie Cammish and Meg O'Neill. Triple J first sang Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger", before contending for the final place at judges' houses with GMD3 (later District3). They covered Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x", but were sent home after GMD3 were eventually chosen for judges' houses. However, following Rough Copy's forced withdrawal from the show, Dreelan was contacted by The X Factor producers with an offer for the group to return, on the basis that Shelley was added to the three-piece. All parties accepted the offer and the band – now a four-piece – became Union J and advanced to judges' houses alongside fellow recalled Times Red.[6]

The band's first performance as a four-piece was an acoustic cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe".[7] This earnt them a place in the live shows, and they instantly proved popular with social media users, garnering 46% of all online discussion regarding The X Factor after being announced to compete at judges' houses. In week 1 of the live shows, Union J performed Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". Despite negative feedback from the other judges, they progressed through to the next week after placing fourth in voting statistics behind Christopher Maloney, Jahméne Douglas and Ella Henderson, respectively.[8] In week 4, the group received the fewest public votes with Jade Ellis, but were saved by Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Walsh. They found themselves in the bottom two again in week 6, against District3, but were saved for a second time by Barlow and Scherzinger, with Walsh refusing to vote (as he mentored both acts). Union J were in the bottom two for a third time in week 8, where they were saved by Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Walsh over Rylan Clark. They were eliminated in the semi-final on 2 December, finishing in fourth place. It was later reported that their winning single would have been a cover of Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper",[9] which is featured on their debut album.

Union J and Magazines + TV Screens Tour (2013)

Union J first announced that they had signed a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment at a performance in Cardiff, Wales on 15 December 2012.[10] Their debut single "Carry You" was recorded in London in January 2013[2] and was released in June 2013, charting at number six in the United Kingdom.[2] On 28 January, it was confirmed that the subsidiary label that Union J had signed with was RCA Records.[2] In June 2013, it was announced that the band would embark on their first UK headline tour, the Magazines + TV Screens Tour, which consisted of 18 dates in December 2013 and January 2014.[2] They also revealed that their debut album would be released on 28 October 2013.

Union J announced that their second single, "Beautiful Life", would be released on 21 October 2013, a week before their self-titled debut album, Union J.[2] On 2 October 2013, the band revealed that they are partnering up with Pokémon for the UK release of X and Y.[2] On 5 November 2013, they announced that their third single would be "Loving You Is Easy".[2]

You Got It All – The Album (2014)

On 2 January 2014, while guest editing the Daily Star's Playlist column, Union J announced that they would release their second album in 2014. Jaymi said, "Very exciting, we're about to start recording our second studio album, which is massive. And then I think we're going to write on the album as well, work with some new producers." Josh also said that they hope to "find that lane that [they] want to go down."[18] They also revealed that they felt there was pressure on them to match the huge success of One Direction, as Louis Walsh had expected them to have a number-one single.[18] The band also revealed that they did write songs for their debut album which ultimately failed to make the final cut, but hoped to have more self-penned tracks on their second album. Hensley told Digital Spy, "We did write for [their first] album and we'd done about 14 songs but they didn't go on the album, maybe because they weren't right. The thing about writing is it's personal but also the more practice you get, the better you get.[2]

On 5 April, Cuthbert announced via Twitter that Union J had left RCA and signed a new deal with Epic Records.[2] The first single to be taken from the band's second album is "Tonight (We Live Forever)", which was released on 17 August 2014.[20] Following its premiere on Capital FM on 18 June 2014, the single entered the iTunes Top 100 Chart through pre-order sales alone. Union J performed "Tonight (We Live Forever)" live for the first time at Capital FM's Summertime Ball.[21] On 24 August, "Tonight" debuted at number 9 in the UK.[22]

On 14 October, it was announced that the second single from their second album is entitled "You Got It All". Its first play was on 15 October on Capital FM. On 30 October, Union J that announced that their second album will be called You Got It All – The Album and was released on 8 December 2014. Despite promoting the album on The X Factor and The Xtra Factor, it entered at number 28 on the UK Albums Chart, selling 15,000 copies on its first week.[23]

2015–present: The Vamps Arena Tour, An Audience with Union J, Shelley's departure and third album

Union J were the main support act on The Vamps' arena tour in the UK and Ireland in April and May.[24] They announced that they were doing An Audience with Union J in October and November, and also revealed that they are working on their third album.[25]

Shelley left the group in March 2016; speaking exclusively to The Sun's Dan Wootton, Cuthbert blamed Shelley's departure on the latter's changing manner following his stint on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. Cuthbert said, "I would much rather have someone who wants to do it and is committed to do it. I’m not going to lose any sleep over him not being in the band."[26] Hensley revealed that Shelley's departure was a mutual agreement between all four members and that there were no bad feelings or jealousy which led to it.[27]

Union J will be recording their third album in Los Angeles in May 2016.[28]

Products and endorsements

Union J made an appearance in the 2013 comedy film Kick-Ass 2, playing heartthrobs adored by Hit-Girl's teenage school friends.[29]

On 2 April 2013, it was announced that they had signed a bookdeal to publish an autobiography through Penguin Books and Michael Joseph, prior to the release of their album on 26 September 2013.[30] The band commented, "We are very excited to be working with Penguin on our first book and are looking forward to the chance to tell our stories, of how we came together and where we came from, as well as the journey we've taken since X Factor."[31] The autobiography, titled Our Story: Union J 100% Official, was released on 21 October 2013.[32] They also released The Official Union J 2014 Annual.[33]

On 21 January 2014, the band launched a set of lookalike dolls.[34] On 7 February, Panini launched the official Union J sticker collection.[35]


Current members

Josh Cuthbert

Joshua Thomas John "Josh" Cuthbert (born (1992-07-28)28 July 1992, age 23)[36] is from Ascot, Berkshire.[37][38] He attended Charters School in Berkshire[37] and The Sixth Form College Farnborough. He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Before The X Factor, he worked in an office and starred in the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when he was 14.[39] In 2009, he was invited to join The Wanted, but was unable to do so because of a two-year contract with another band, Replay.[5]

Cuthbert also used to be a footballer, playing as a goalkeeper, but had to quit after damaging his thumb in a shooting accident. Cuthbert said, "I played football from a young age. Playing in goal meant I broke every single finger but one day I was shooting an air rifle with my grandad and the gun was faulty. My thumb got trapped and I ended up losing half of it. And obviously being a goalie your thumb is an integral part."[5]

He's been in a relationship with model Chloe Lloyd since November 2014.[5] On 14 November 2015, Cuthbert proposed to Lloyd on a gondola ride in Venice.[5]

On 7 February 2015, Cuthbert signed a modelling contract with modeling agency Two Management.[5] On 11 May 2015, it was announced that he had signed a modelling contract with modeling agency Storm Model Management in London. On 16 June 2015, Josh announced that he signed a contract with Red Model Management. In 2016, he signed a contract with Select Model Management in London.

JJ Hamblett

Jamie Paul "JJ" Hamblett (born (1988-05-25)25 May 1988, aged 28)[36] is from Newmarket, Suffolk.[38] He is the oldest member of the group and was one of the three original members of Triple J. He was a jockey until he was 21, riding in 270 races and winning 24 times. He has ridden horses for the Queen and met her.[4] On 18 September 2013, Hamblett announced that he and his American girlfriend Caterina Lopez were expecting their first child together,[5] and on 28 November 2013, Caterina gave birth to Princeton J. Alexander.[5]

In August 2015, JJ announced the start of a new project with his partner Caterina Lopez, by posting a sneak peek video on Facebook[5] JJ and Caterina announced that they signed a contract with ThinkersPR Talent.[5]

Jaymi Hensley

James William "Jaymi" Hensley (born (1990-02-24)24 February 1990, aged 26)[36] is from Luton, Bedfordshire.[38] He was one of the three original members of Triple J. Hensley is openly gay and has been in a relationship with Olly Marmon since 2009.[49] He proposed to Marmon in 2010[6] He went to a theatre school with Cuthbert. He has 17 tattoos. Before The X Factor, he did both ballet and gymnastics, but his career as a gymnast was cut off by a broken wrist, and he struggled with his weight when he was no longer exercising so much.[49] In 2015, Hensley appeared with singer Sinitta on Pointless Celebrities, a celebrity edition of the BBC game show Pointless.[6]

Casey Johnson

Casey Johnson (born (1995-05-01)1 May 1995, aged 21) is the most recent member of Union J. Johnson auditioned for the X Factor in 2014 and became a member of eight piece band Stereo Kicks. The band released one single, "Love Me So" and a month later they split as they could not afford to continue without a record deal.

On 6 May 2016, Union J announced that Johnson was the newest member of the band, and that they were to continue as a four piece.[6]

Former members

George Shelley

George Paul Shelley (born (1993-07-27)27 July 1993, aged 22)[36] in Clevedon, North Somerset[38] was the youngest member of the group.His parents Dominic Shelley and Toni Harris are divorced, Dominic remarried. He has two brothers Tom, who lives in Australia, and Will, who did three tours with the marines in Afghanistan; a younger sister Harriet, and two step-sisters Anabelle and Louisa along with four half-brothers Leo, Archie, Spencer and Roman. He attended Weston College in Weston-super-Mare from 2010 until 2011, where he completed a BTEC Extended Diploma in Graphic Design.

Shelley auditioned for The X Factor as a solo artist singing "Toxic" in 2012 while he worked as a Barista in Costa Coffee and was eliminated during bootcamp, but they later called him back to join Triple J and form Union J.

In 2015, Shelley appeared as one of the thirteen contestants on the fifteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! On 4 March 2016, it was announced Shelley left Union J to pursue other career endeaver .



The group also performed at multiple festivals in UK and Ireland and on OMG Spring Break Portugal.

Awards and nominations

2013PopdustUnion JNext Pop Superstar of 2013Third
BBC Radio 1 Teen AwardsBest British BreakthroughWon[6]
2014Best of 2013 AwardsBest Boyband of 2013Fourth
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice AwardsUK Favourite BandNominated
World Music AwardsWorld's Best GroupNominated
World's Best Live Act
"Beautiful Life"World's Best Song
World's Best Video