Louis Prima

Born on December 7, 1910 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Louis Prima was a trumpeter, band leader, singer, composer, and sometime film star. The son of Italian immigrant parents Angelina and Anthony Prima. He was educated at Jesuit High School, and studied the violin for several years under Hemmersback, before switching to the trumpet.

At the tender age of 17, Louis was inspired by such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong and King Oliver. He aquired his first job as a singer/trumpeter in a New Orleans theater - his older brother, Leon, also played trumpet at a local night-spot.

In the early 30s Prima worked with Red Nichols, before forming his own seven-piece group called 'New Orleans Gang', with its signature tune, 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans'. They recorded more than 70 titles in New York for various labels from 1934-39, some of which made the US Hit Parade.

Louis Prima started recording in the 1930s with his New Orleans Gang. Around this time, he also composed the classic swing tune "Sing, Sing, Sing," which became a smash for Benny Goodman. In the '40s, Prima started working with singer Keely Smith, who he eventually married. With a raucous stage show mixing swing, R&B, some Italian flavor, and a hefty dose of humor, they were hugely successful all the way into the early '60s. Prima later earned accolades as the voice of King Louie in the hit Disney film THE JUNGLE BOOK. He passed away in 1978, but Smith went on performing and recording into the 21st century.