If you’re one of the few who haven’t heard of Louis Prima, you’re lucky! You’re lucky because you have so much good stuff to discover. I got turned on to him about 15 years after his death which was in 1978 and he’s been a constant inspiration ever since.
After the first 5 minutes of the documentary "Louis Prima:The Wildest!" I thought to myself, that’s already worth the price of admission.
He was born in 1910 in New Orleans. As with most other horn players, Louis Armstrong was a big influence. He was original and unique. He was a singer, trumpet player, songwriter, entertainer,and comedian. You can’t label Prima to an era or musical style cause he was all over the place.
In 1936 he wrote a song called “Sing, Sing, Sing” which was covered by many and became one of Benny Goodman’s signature songs and one of the biggest hits of the Swing Era.
Later in the mid to late 40’s as the R&B scene was on it’s way to the invention of rock & roll, he was one of the few whites showing up on the R&B charts.
C’mon ‘A My House an early rock & roll song from 1950.
He recorded a ton of hilarious flavoured Italian music. Swing songs like Felicia no Capicia, Angelina, Zooma Zooma, and Josephine, Please No Lean on The Bell. This stuff is what probably got him into Vegas where he had a great career during the 50's.
Sam Butera, Prima’s long-time sax player says in the documentary that everyone who worked in Vegas during those years in the 50’s would come and watch Louis Prima, along with Keely Smith his wife, and Sam Butera and The Witnesses do their thing. Even the boys from the Rat Pack admitted to taking ideas from Primas show. Louis Prima and Keely Smith were the model for later stars Sonny and Cher.
Sam Butera often shared center stage with Prima to get the crowd laughing.
There were bands swingin’ as good, but none were better than Louis Prima's. Listen to the great solos of Sam Butera on tenor sax and Jimmy "Little Red" Blount on trombone. Another very cool and recognizable sound this band had was the tenor and trombone as a small, but fat sounding section, with Loius adding trumpet when he wasn't singing. Amazing dynamics orchestrated by the drummer, and a great vocal blend between Prima, Smith and Butera.
A truly original, and very talented act, led by Louis Prima... The Wildest!