Louis Prima

Sicilian American Singer + Actor + Songwriter + Trumpeter

Louis Prima was an American singer, actor, songwriter, and trumpeter. Prima rode the musical trends of his time, starting with his seven-piece New Orleans style jazz band in the 1920s, then successively leading a swing combo in the 1930s, a big band in the 1940s, a Vegas lounge act in the 1950s, and a pop-rock band in the 1960s. In each of his musical endeavors, he incorporated his exuberant personality into his act.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Louis Prima.


1910 Birth Born on December 7, 1910.


1924 - 1926 2 More Events
1927 16 Years Old In 1927, he partnered with fellow musician Frank Federico and the pair played at "The Whip", a run-down French Quarter nightclub.
1928 17 Years Old By the spring of 1928, Prima decided he would become a professional musician.
After finishing high school in New Orleans, Prima had a few unsuccessful gigs, including when he joined the Ellis Stratako Orchestra in 1929. … Read More


1931 20 Years Old From 1931 to 1932 Prima occupied his time by performing in the Avalon Club owned by his brother Leon. … Read More
1934 23 Years Old 1 More Event
Guy Lombardo met Prima while he was performing at club Shim Sham during the Mardi Gras season of 1934. … Read More
1935 24 Years Old 1 More Event
Prima's recordings from 1935 were a combination of Dixieland and swing.
In March 1936, Prima recorded "Sing Sing Sing", which subsequently became a hit for Benny Goodman. … Read More
1937 26 Years Old In 1937, Prima and his smaller gang (Federico, Masinter, Pinero, and Meyer Weinberg on clarinet) returned to the Famous Door in New York to perform.
1938 27 Years Old 1 More Event
He also appeared at Billy Rose’s Casa Mañana club in May 1938. … Read More
1939 28 Years Old In World War II, Prima was deemed unfit for military service because of a knee injury, so he continued performing. In 1939 he was under contract to appear in black theatres in New York, Baltimore, Boston and Washington D.C. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt attended his performance in Washington D.C., and formally invited him to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday celebration. … Read More


1945 34 Years Old Prima had several big hits in the summer of 1945 including, "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and "Bell-Bottom Trousers". … Read More
1947 36 Years Old By the end of the war years, the popularity of big band music was diminishing, and by 1947 Prima was playing more jazzy versions of his music. … Read More
1948 37 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1948 Prima and Barrett had a baby girl. … Read More


1951 - 1954 3 More Events
1955 44 Years Old The act was a hit, and ultimately led Prima to sign with Capitol Records in 1955.
1956 45 Years Old He released his first album with Capitol Records, The Wildest!, in September 1956. Some of the popular songs include his medley of "Just a Gigolo" and "I Ain't Got Nobody". In 1957, they released The Call of the Wildest. Keely worked with other artists to release the album I Wish You Love, and received a Grammy for it in 1958. … Read More
1959 48 Years Old In 1959, Prima signed with Dot Records and they produced eight albums. … Read More


1961 50 Years Old 1 More Event
In January 1961, Prima was invited by Frank Sinatra to perform in the inaugural gala for President John F. Kennedy; the two played "Old Black Magic" together. … Read More
1962 51 Years Old In 1962, he tried to form his own recording company called “Prima One Records”. … Read More
1967 56 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1967, Prima landed a role in Walt Disney's animated feature The Jungle Book, as the raucous orangutan King Louie.
1970 59 Years Old One of Prima's final television appearances was on What's My Line? as a "mystery guest" in 1970.


1973 62 Years Old Prima suffered a heart attack in 1973. … Read More
1978 68 Years Old He never recovered, and died three years later, in 1978, having been moved back to New Orleans. … Read More
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