Louis Prima
Sicilian American singer, actor, songwriter, and trumpeter
Louis Prima
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.
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Great Scott: The Multifaceted Genius of Bobby Scott - JazzTimes Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
By age eleven he was playing piano professionally and spent portions of his teen years touring with Tony Scott (no relation), Louis Prima and Gene Krupa, with whom he cut a few sides in the early 1950s. Striking out on his own in 1954, he signed with
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'Buddy' actor Busey to join Everly, Asher as speakers during Holly star ceremony - LubbockOnline.com
Google News - over 5 years
Louis Prima was approved for induction on the same day by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Busey is an actor, born in Baytown, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Lubbock-born
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Festa Italiana this weekend - Suburban Life Publications
Google News - over 5 years
Louis Prima Jr., son of legendary musician, Louis Prima, will perform Saturday night, as will Australian vocalist, Alfio. Local DJs, JoJo and Gizeppe will also perform each night. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and children under 12 are
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Today in Music History - Aug. 24 - mysask.com (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
In 1978, trumpeter-singer-bandleader Louis Prima died in New Orleans at 66. He'd been in a coma since brain surgery in 1975. Prima's novelty hits in the 1940's included "Bell-Bottom Trousers" and "Oh, Babe." Prima provided the voice of an orangutan in
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Buona festa: Italian fest returns to Addison - Chicago Daily Herald
Google News - over 5 years
28 This year's fest also will include musical entertainment including The Bronx Wanderers and Louis Prima Jr. and his Big Band as well as bocce ball courts and an Italian Mass on Sunday. And to find out a bit more about what draws about 20000 people to
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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; Johnny Winter; Dave Koz and friends - Windy City Times
Google News - over 5 years
However, it was even better to hear Scotty Morris and his crew bounce and hard bop through "I Wanna Be Like You" from Walt Disney's forgotten animated Jungle Book (1967) and inspired (visually as well as musically) by the equally forgotten Louis Prima
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Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88s take center stage Sunday in the park - Willits News
Google News - over 5 years
Mitch takes his cue from jumpin', n', jivin', shoutin' n' honkin', pumpin' n' poundin' predecessors: Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Joe and Jimmie Liggins and Louis Prima. His pile-drivin' piano licks and energetic stage persona combine with the Rocket
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DVD Review: Louis Prima: In Person - Blogcritics.org (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The closest Louis Prima came to being a household name was with David Lee Roth's medley "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," an homage to one of Prima's signature hits. As entertaining as the Van Halen star was/is, his wild days couldn't hold a candle
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TICKET TO DINING: Pepperoncini Sotto — a grotto dedicated to good eating (VIDEO) - Montgomery Newspapers
Google News - over 5 years
There's plenty of room here — from the main dining room and two smaller private rooms (including the very grotto-like Louis Prima Room) suitable for private parties, plus dining alfresco outside the hotel. Thursday night's UnWIND specials,
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Social calendar - 7-25 - Pasadena Star-News
Google News - over 5 years
626-796-0560 San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre kicks off its 2011-2012 season with "Swingin' & Croonin': A Night of Prima, Dino and Bing," starring Louis Prima, Jr.; Dean Martin's son, Ricci; and Bing Crosby's grandson, Phil Crosby
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Rico: Duncan at 90, dinner for 21 - TheReporter.com
Google News - over 5 years
IN A favorite movie -- "Big Night" Italian brothers Primo and Secondo create an epic dinner for madcap music man Louis Prima in hopes of saving their failing restaurant. They invite 20 friends. Prima is a no-show, but friends do
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Spider-Man, Ghost Rider impress in superhero double feature - USA Today (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
He talked at length about the music he listened to to get in the Spidey mood — an iPod playlist with everything from Sleigh Bells to Louis Prima. He also revealed about his trepidation in taking the role. "The 4-year-old inside me was like,
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NOFO performers excited for another 'perfect weekend' - The Suffolk Times
Google News - over 5 years
The music will range from traditional Dixieland and jazz to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, Mr. Lauro said. And while many of the performers have built national and international reputations, producer Josh Horton said he thought it
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John Mosca, 86; a Restaurant's Patriarch
NYTimes - over 5 years
When John Mosca carried out a bowl of blue crab claws drenched in garlicky Italian dressing and set it on the bar at the Louisiana restaurant that bears his family name, he wouldn't say much. He didn't need to. Customers fortunate enough to have found their way to Mosca's, west of New Orleans, and to be sitting at the bar when such a gift arrived
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Wallin and Barretta Pay Tribute to Italian Singers at the Firehouse - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
Performed in the style of a Las Vegas headliner show of the 1950s, Larry Wallin and Rick Barretta pay tribute to Italian-American singers Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Bobby Darin, Louis Prima, Frankie Avalon, Tony Bennett, and other favorite
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POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT - The Sudbury Star
Google News - over 5 years
Louis Prima sang the voice of ape-King Louis in which film? 4.What was the name of the classic Disney animated movie about a young King Arthur? 5.With which movie do we associate Cruella de Ville? 1.The original Dumbledore, he was a hard-drinking
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Man Discovers Birth Dad Is Louis Prima - myfoxny.com
Google News - over 5 years
COM - The search for his birth parents led one adoptee on a 25-year quest that eventually took him to the doorstep of legendary band leader and entertainer Louis Prima. Alan Gerstel took his frustrating decades-long investigation and turned it into a
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Louis Prima
  • 1978
    He never recovered, and died three years later, in 1978, having been moved back to New Orleans.
    More Details Hide Details He was buried in Metairie Cemetery in a gray marble crypt topped by a figure of Gabriel, the trumpeter-angel, sculpted in 1997 by Russian-born sculptor Alexei Kazantsev. The inscription on the crypt's door quotes the lyrics from one of his hits: "When the end comes, I know, they'll all say 'just a gigolo' as life goes on without me." On July 25, 2010 – the centenary year of his birth – Prima received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With Sam Butera and The Witnesses: Coronet Records
  • 1973
    Prima suffered a heart attack in 1973.
    More Details Hide Details Two years later, following headaches and episodes of memory loss, he sought medical attention, and was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and went into a coma following surgery.
  • 1970
    One of Prima's final television appearances was on What's My Line? as a "mystery guest" in 1970.
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  • 1967
    He performed the hit song "I Wan'na Be like You" on the soundtrack, leading to the recording of two albums with Phil Harris: The Jungle Book and More Jungle Book, and also covering MC duties and singing the theme song "Winnie the Pooh", for the 1967 album entitled, Happy Birthday Winnie the Pooh, all of these on Disneyland Records.
    More Details Hide Details He can also be heard on the soundtrack of another cartoon feature, The Man Called Flintstone.
    In 1967, Prima landed a role in Walt Disney's animated feature The Jungle Book, as the raucous orangutan King Louie.
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  • 1962
    In 1962, he tried to form his own recording company called “Prima One Records”.
    More Details Hide Details He tried to fill Keely's spot with Gia Maione, a waitress who was 21 years old. He did his best to make her famous by producing her first album “This Is … Gia.” It was funded entirely by him, and it was not successful. With Gia, his fifth wife, Prima had a daughter and his only son Louis Prima, Jr., the last of his six children. He was also in the middle of making appearances in Las Vegas and promoting the film “Twist All Night.”
  • 1961
    Prima's father died in 1961, the same year as the divorce with Keely.
    More Details Hide Details His mother died in the winter of 1965, for which he partly blamed Keely.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details The constant performances and Prima's sometimes flirtatious actions were too much for Smith. After finishing up their contract at the Desert Inn, she filed for divorce at the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court of Nevada in Las Vegas. After Keely was out of his life and his performances, Prima tried to prove that he did not need her. In the New York Post, there was a suggestion that Keely should rejoin for an act in New York's Basin Street East nightclub. Prima said, "I have no desire whatsoever to have any dealings with Keely Smith under any conditions.... There is nothing in the world or no one that could ever make me accept this woman in our act."
  • 1959
    In 1959, Prima signed with Dot Records and they produced eight albums.
    More Details Hide Details The top albums were Wonderland By Night and On Stage in 1961. The couple was constantly performing and it affected their marriage. To attempt relaxation, the couple set out on a trip on the Atlantic coast, but ended up grounded in the Intracoastal Waterway until rescued by the Coast Guard.
  • 1956
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Keely also received a Playboy Jazz Award in 1959. She got a number one female vocalist reward in 58/59 from Billboard and Variety. The duo also redid "Old Black Magic", which was a Top 40 hit for two months. It earned the duo a Grammy. The couple also had two daughters together, one of whom, Toni, is an actress and singer in her own right. Prima decided to relocate his acts to the Desert Inn because he would take in $3 million for producing twelve weeks' worth of acts a year for five years.
  • 1955
    The act was a hit, and ultimately led Prima to sign with Capitol Records in 1955.
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  • 1954
    In 1954 Prima was offered to stay at The Sahara in Las Vegas to open his new act with Keely Smith.
    More Details Hide Details He enlisted New Orleans saxophonist Sam Butera and his backing musicians, "The Witnesses".
  • 1953
    On top of it all, he divorced his third wife Tracelene on June 18, 1953.
    More Details Hide Details Less than a month later he married Keely. She was open to criticism and he wanted to make her a star. He had to find the style that fit her correctly, especially since rock and roll was emerging. Prima was not against rock ’n roll like some other artists, such as Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason. He accepted that the kids had "an instinct for the kind of music that’s fun to listen to and dance to."
  • 1951
    Prima signed with Columbia Records in the fall of 1951 to keep up with the rapid changes in the marketing industry.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout the sixteen-month contract his top hits consisted of "Chop Suey, Chow Mein," "Ooh-Dahdily-Dah," and "Chili Sauce". To manage his expenses, he had to drop his big band and play in lesser clubs to support his horses.
  • 1948
    Keely Smith was seventeen when she met Prima in August 1948.
    More Details Hide Details Born in Norfolk, Virginia, she made a point to stop by the Surf Club in Virginia Beach to visit him. To her surprise, Prima was looking for a new female vocalist to replace Lily Ann Carol. Smith was wearing a bathing suit and was not allowed into the club until she put on proper attire. Luckily, someone was able to lend her some acceptable clothing and she auditioned. She landed the part and travelled with the band.
    In 1948 Prima and Barrett had a baby girl.
    More Details Hide Details He continued to work in the northeast, but cut down the size of his orchestra. Fans knew Prima as a genial and patient celebrity: he always signed autographs or posed for pictures with a smile. To the record companies and big corporations, however, Prima showed little deference, and he was uncompromising in seeking adequate compensation for his work. Warner Brothers offered him $60,000 to be in a movie based on the life of Helen Morgan, but he rejected it; when the studio increased the offer to $75,000, it was still not enough. Prima wanted $100,000 and creative control of his role, which was rejected by Warner Brothers. He had protracted disputes with the Strand Theatre in Ithaca and Majestic Records, and he flatly refused to allow a former songwriter to advertise herself as “formerly featured with Louis Prima’s orchestra”.
  • 1947
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Under a new contract with RCA Victor, he recorded "Civilization"; "You Can’t Tell the Depth of the Well"; "Say it with a Slap"; “Valencia"; "My Flame Went Out Last Night"; "Thousand Islands"; "Mean To Me"; and "Tutti Tutti Pizzicato".
  • 1945
    Prima had several big hits in the summer of 1945 including, "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and "Bell-Bottom Trousers".
    More Details Hide Details As his career grew, however, his marriage with Alma simultaneously failed. They got a divorce when she discovered he had been cheating on her with another actress. Alma was supposed to receive $15,000 a year or 7.5% of his earnings. Prima ignored the payments until they piled up to about $60,000, which forced him to write a settlement check of $45,000 plus $250 per week. Later he married his secretary, Tracelene Barrett.
  • 1939
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He appeared in photographs with the President, which ultimately boosted his publicity. By the mid-1940s, Prima was experiencing great success. People were purchasing tickets early in the morning for shows later on that evening. Despite the anti-Italian sentiment during the war, Prima continued to record Italian songs, the most famous being "Angelina", named after his mother. Others included “Please No Squeeza Da Banana", "Bacci Galupe (Made Love on the Stoop)", and "Felicia No Capicia." He performed the Italian songs at the Strand Theatre in New York. He brought in $440,000 in six weeks. In Detroit he could bring in about $38,000 for an afternoon performance. With all of this success, he decided to go back to Chicago to prove himself; he sold out the “Panther Room” in that city.
  • 1938
    He was booked by William Morris Agency in late 1938.
    More Details Hide Details This entailed traveling throughout the east coast. Stops were made in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Miami Beach, New Orleans, and St. Louis. These trips were sometimes made in the course of one night of driving. The crew always traveled by car, since it was the cheapest option.
    He also appeared at Billy Rose’s Casa Mañana club in May 1938.
    More Details Hide Details He racked up about a quarter million dollars throughout seven weeks at Casa Mañana.
  • 1937
    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.
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  • 1936
    Prima struggled to upgrade to big band style. It was not supported by his mentors in New York or Los Angeles. With the help of Guy Lombardo he traveled to Chicago to promote his new format at the Blackhawk in October 1936.
    More Details Hide Details The new format was not successful. The show did not bring out Prima’s performance ability, and the music sounded “overly rehearsed”. He lost money and did not pay some of his musicians.
    They wed on July 25, 1936.
    More Details Hide Details The couple had a few problems; one of the worst was that Louis denied much about his past. He never confessed to Alma that he had a daughter until she found out from a tax return. Prima also pushed Ross into signing with Paramount in 1937. He continued to travel along the East Coast with his band.
    With all of his success, his marriage back in New Orleans had already failed. Louise and Prima were divorced in 1936 because Prima was found cheating on Louise back in 1933, in the French Quarter.
    More Details Hide Details A few months later, he was involved in a new fling with Alma Ross, an actress. Prima and Ross were quite serious and after only a few months together he asked her to marry him while he started his tour out in the Midwest. The couple faced problems in Wisconsin and Chicago because they did not meet the marital requirements. Guy Lombardo helped them out by arranging a place in South Bend, Indiana.
    In March 1936, Prima recorded "Sing Sing Sing", which subsequently became a hit for Benny Goodman.
    More Details Hide Details Prima moved to California to get away from that lifestyle and expand his music. During this time there was a movement for big bands and orchestras. Prima hired Louis Masinter on the string bass, a New Orleans native. He also fired McAdams so that he could have Frank Federico, his childhood friend, play the guitar.
  • 1935
    In May 1935, Prima and Russell recorded "The Lady in Red", a national jukebox hit.
    More Details Hide Details They also recorded "Chinatown", "Chasing Shadows" and "Gypsy Tea Room". Martha Raye also played a role in Prima’s professional and personal life. She was a comedian with potential to become a singer. The two featured a show at the club that granted Prima his first national debut on "The Fleischman Hour".
    Prima's recordings from 1935 were a combination of Dixieland and swing.
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  • 1934
    In September 1934, Prima began recording for the Brunswick label.
    More Details Hide Details He recorded "That’s Where the South Begins", "Long About Midnight", "Jamaica Shout", and "Star Dust". Prima and his New Orleans Gang was a band that consisted of five musicians. Frank Pinero was the pianist, Jack Ryan played bass, Garrett McAdams played guitar, while Pee Wee Russell played clarinet. The band had their first performance at a club called the “Famous Door”, owned and operated by Jack Colt.
    Guy Lombardo met Prima while he was performing at club Shim Sham during the Mardi Gras season of 1934.
    More Details Hide Details Prima’s first gig in New York City was supposed to be at a club called Leon and Eddie’s, located at 33 West 52nd street. Eddie Davis, one of the owners of the club, did not hire Prima because he thought he was black.
  • 1931
    From 1931 to 1932 Prima occupied his time by performing in the Avalon Club owned by his brother Leon.
    More Details Hide Details His first break was when Lou Forbes hired him for daily afternoon and early evening shows at The Saenger. New York was an attraction for hungry musicians during the Great Depression. It posed numerous risks, but all of the best artists in the nation made it in New York if not anywhere else.
  • 1929
    Although the Capital did not provide him with a big break for his career, he did meet his first wife Louise Polizzi there. They married on June 25, 1929.
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    He joined Joseph Cherniavsky's Orchestra in 1929 at Jefferson Parish.
    More Details Hide Details He got a temporary job playing on the steamship Capital that docked on Canal Street.
    After finishing high school in New Orleans, Prima had a few unsuccessful gigs, including when he joined the Ellis Stratako Orchestra in 1929.
    More Details Hide Details Prima, Federico and saxophonist Dave Winstein drove to Florida for a gig but no one showed up. They made it to a relative's house, where they were given money for gas and a meal. Prima did not give up.
  • 1928
    By the spring of 1928, Prima decided he would become a professional musician.
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  • 1927
    In 1927, he partnered with fellow musician Frank Federico and the pair played at "The Whip", a run-down French Quarter nightclub.
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  • 1926
    Prima attended Jesuit High School but transferred to Warren Easton High in the fall of 1926.
    More Details Hide Details At Warren Easton, he played with the "Eastonites", the school band.
  • 1924
    He formed a band in 1924 with his childhood friends Irving Fazola (clarinet) and Johnny Viviano (drums).
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  • 1910
    Born on December 7, 1910.
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