Trace Adkins
Louis Armstrong
Marcia Ball
Dave Bartholomew
Harold Battiste
Tab Benoit
Rod Bernard
Boswell Sisters
Kix Brooks
James Burton
Bobby Charles
Chubby Carrier
Clifton Chenier
Jay Chevalier
Jimmy Clanton
Congo Square
Bill Conti
Cowboy Mouth
Floyd Cramer
Sugarboy Crawford
Dale and Grace
Dash Rip Rock
Jimmie Davis
Deacon John
Dixie Cups
Fats Domino
Elvis Presley
D J Fontana
Frankie Ford
Pete Fountain
John Fred &
Playboy Band
Mickey Gilley
Henry Gray
Buddy Guy
Slim Harpo
Dale Hawkins
Hunter Hayes
Clarence Henry
Al Hirt
Dick Holler
Johnny Horton
Mahalia Jackson
Al Johnson
Kidd Jordan
Ernie K-Doe
Luther Kent
Doug Kershaw
Sammy Kershaw
Bobby Kimball
Jean Knight
Ronnie Kole
Jerry LaCroix
Sonny Landreth
Lead Belly
Jerry Lee Lewis
Stan Lewis
Lillian Axe
Little Richard
Little Walter
LA Hayride 48-'60
LSU Tiger Band
Cosimo Matassa
Dennis McGee
Gerry McGee
Tommy McLain
Ellis Marsalis
Master P
Tim McGraw
D L Menard
S J Montalbano
Jelly Roll Morton
Kenny Neal
Aaron Neville
Neville Brothers
Jimmy Newman
Randy Newman
Joe Osborn
Robert Parker
Phil Phillips
Webb Pierce
Louis Prima
Lloyd Price
Wardell Quezergue
Eddy Raven
The Radiators
Mac Rebennack
River Road
Johnny Rivers
Rockin' Dopsie
Rockin Dopsie Jr
Mike Shepherd
Percy Sledge
Jo-El Sonnier
Benny Spellman
Joe Stampley
Warren Storm
Joe Tex
Irma Thomas
Luke Thompson
Wayne Toups
Allen Toussaint
Wilson Turbinton
The Uniques
Vince Vance
Hank Williams
Hank Williams Jr
Larry Williams
Lucinda Williams
Gregg Wright
Andrew Bernard
Tony Haselden
Casey Kelly
Huey P. Long & Castro Carazo
Leon Medica
Cyril Vetter
Charles Connor
Paul Ferrara
Bill Johnston
Paul Marx
Larry McKinley
Eddie Shuler
Bas Clas
Boogie Kings
Cookie & the Cupcakes
Sheryl Cormier
T K Hulin
Belton Richard
G G Shinn
Jivin' Gene
Iry LeJeune
Charles Mann
Queen Ida
Lil Buck Senegal
Willie Tee Trahan
The Dots
The Inn Crowd
James Johnson
Shotgun LeBoa
Raful Neal
Rudi Richard
Lee Tillman
Debbie Traylor
Lenny Capello
Joe Clay
Benny Grunch
Randy Jackson
Lil Freddie King
J J Muggler
Eddie Powers
Coco Robicheaux
Ernie Vincent
Walter Washington
Al Ferrier
Bill Brent
Glen D Andrews
Amanda Shaw
Chase Tyler
Steve Cropper
Jimmy Hall
Jimi Jamison
George Jones
Jim Peterik
MdL Magazine
Nov 2015
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
Full Calendar
HOME arrow Louis Prima


LOUIS PRIMA (b. Dec. 7, 1910 – d. Aug. 24, 1978):

Flamboyant, boisterous, crude, and talented are all adjectives that describe Louis Prima and his 1950s Vegas act. 

Born and raised in New Orleans, Prima studied violin while a student at Jesuit High School.  When his brother,

also a musician, went on tour and left an old trumpet behind, Louis picked up the instrument and was hooked. 

Teaching himself to play, he learned well enough to begin playing professionally in the late ‘20s and in 1934,

at the urging of Guy Lombardo, he moved to New York.



He formed a band called the New Orleans Gang that quickly became a popular draw in New York’s Famous Door. 

Though the band recorded for several labels, Prima was a relative unknown except for his composition of Sing,

Sing, Sing that was a hit for Benny Goodman.  In fact, Goodman’s coronation as the King of Swing was the

direct result of Prima’s composition.  Prima wrote many hit songs, including Robin Hood, which was a hit for

Les Brown.  His Jump, Jive, and Wail remains a swing era classic.



He also broke attendance records in Cleveland’s Palace Theater, Providence’s Metropolitan, Philadelphia’s

Earl Theater, Newark’s Earl, Detroit’s Downtown Theater, Chicago’s Oriental and played an unprecedented three

times in one year at the greatest venue of the time, New York’s Paramount Theater.  He also played several

famous black theaters, including the Royal in Baltimore, the Paradise in Detroit, the Regal in Chicago, the Howard

in Washington, D.C., and the Apollo in New York.



In 1948, Prima started working with a sixteen-year-old girl named Dorothy Keely Smith.  Her deadpan delivery served

as the perfect counterpart to Prima’s stage antics and the chemistry between them instantly became the centerpiece of their

act.  Prima broke up his band in 1950 and he and Smith formed their own nightclub act.  She became his fourth wife in

1953.  Prima hired frenetic New Orleans saxophonist Sam Butera to put together a new band, the Witnesses, and together

they took their show to Las Vegas.  Booked into the Sahara Hotel, they billed their act as the “Wildest Show in Vegas”

and it lost no time living up to its billing.



Capitol Records signed the two and he scored hits with Just a Gigolo and Oh Marie.  In 1958 Prima and Smith won

a Grammy for That Old Black Magic, which was a number 18 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100.  Prima and Smith, along

with Butera and the Witnesses, were featured in the movie Hey Boy! Hey Girl!



Prima and Smith divorced in 1961 and in 1967, Prima provided the voice of orangutan King Louie in the Walt Disney

animated feature The Jungle Book.  He also sang the film’s hit song I Wanna Be Like You.  Prima and Phil Harris

collaborated on two albums for Disneyland Records, The Jungle Book and More Jungle Book.  Prima won a gold

record for combined sales of the two albums.



By the early ‘70s, Prima’s act no longer was an attraction in the new Vegas so he and Butera moved back to New

Orleans where they got steady work for the tourist crowd. In October 1975 he underwent brain surgery for the removal

of a tumor and never regained consciousness. 


He remained in a coma for nearly three years and in July of 1978, he contracted pneumonia and was administered last

rites.  He survived for another six weeks, however, before dying on August 24.


In 2008, Louis Prima was posthomously inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.


To learn and experience more, please visit Louis Prima's  Inductees (Photo & Memorabalia) Gallery and his

Inductees Video Gallery under "GALLERIES" on this site. 


Bio courtesy of Tom Aswell - author of "Louisiana Rocks - The True Genesis Of Rock And Roll".

Be sure to visit Louis Prima's web site at .


< Prev   Next >