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Louis Prima

Louis Prima
Louis Prima crop.jpg
Prima in June 1947
Background information
Birth name Louis Prima
Also known as The King of the Swing
Born (1910-12-07)December 7, 1910
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died August 24, 1978(1978-08-24) (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Genres Jazz
Swing
Traditional pop
Jump blues
Big band
Occupation(s) Singer, entertainer, trumpeter, bandleader
Instruments Vocals, trumpet
Years active 1929–1975
Associated acts Gia Maione, Keely Smith, Sam Butera (and the Witnesses), Lou Sino
Website www.louisprima.com

Louis Prima (December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978) was an Italian-American singer, actor, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter. While rooted in New Orleans jazz, swing music, and jump blues, Prima touched on various genres throughout his career: he formed a seven-piece New Orleans-style jazz band in the late 1920s, fronted a swing combo in the 1930s and a big band group in the 1940s, helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, and performed as a Vegas lounge act in the late 1950s and 1960s.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, his music further encompassed early R&B and rock'n'roll, boogie-woogie, and even Italian folk music, such as the tarantella. Prima made prominent use of Italian music and language in his songs, blending elements of his Italian identity with jazz and swing music. At a time when "ethnic" musicians were often discouraged from openly stressing their ethnicity, Prima's conspicuous embrace of his Italian ethnicity opened the doors for other Italian-American and "ethnic" American musicians to display their ethnic roots.

Prima was from a musical family in New Orleans. His father, Anthony Prima, was the son of Leonardo Di Prima, a Sicilian immigrant from Salaparuta, while his mother, Angelina Caravella, had immigrated from Ustica as a baby. Prima was the second child of four; his older brother, Leon, was born in 1907, while his sisters Elizabeth and Marguerite were younger. Marguerite died when she was three years old. Leon, Louis, and Elizabeth were all baptized at St. Ann's Parish. They lived in a house at 1812 St. Peter Street in New Orleans, in a neighborhood mostly populated by Italians, Poles, Arabs, Jews and African Americans.



  • On Broadway (1959)
  • Louis Prima Digs Keely Smith (undated)
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Wikipedia

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