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Louis Prima

"Louis Prima" (December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978) was an Italian-American entertainer, singer, actor, and trumpeter born in New Orleans. He was referred to as the "King of the Swingers".

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 hot Vegas lounge act in the 1950s, and a pop-Rock go-go band in the 1960s, in all cases projecting his exuberant personality.


Prima was born into a musical family of Sicilian origin in New Orleans. He studied violin for several years as a child. His older brother Leon Prima was a well regarded local bandleader. Prima was proud of his heritage, and made a point of letting the audience know at every performance that he was Italian-American and from New Orleans. His singing and playing showed that he absorbed many of the same influences as his fellow Crescent City musician, Louis Armstrong, particularly in his hoarse voice and scat singing.

In his youth in New Orleans Prima played trumpet with Irving Fazola, his brother's band, and the pit band of the Saenger Theater before ...

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