#931 (12/7/19)


Louis Prima And His Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra
Vocal by Ensemble
on Varsity 8166
released in 1940

"Angelina"/"Robin Hood"
Louis Prima And His Orchestra
Vocal by Louis Prima And Chorus
on Majestic 1016
released in 1944

"It Takes A Long Tall Brown-Skin Gal"
Louis Prima And His Orchestra
Vocal by Louis Prima And Band
on Majestic 1037 A
released in 1945

"The White Cliffs Of Dover"
Louis Prima And His Orchestra
Vocal by Louis Prima And Ensemble
on Hit 7109
released in 1944

"I Want To Go To Tokio"
Louis Prima And His Orchestra
Vocal by Louis Prima And Chorus
on Hit 7123
released in 1944

"Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?"
Louis Prima And His Orchestra
Vocal by Louis Prima And Band
on Majestic 7151
released in 1945

(Includes Audio For Fourteen Songs)

Louis Prima, born in New Orleans of Italian heritage, was a band leader, trumpet player, singer, composer, arranger, and record label owner.

Above: Louis Prima's Kid Band, located in New Orleans, circa 1923. Thirteen year old Prima (far left, trumpeter) and twelve year old Irving (Fazola) Prestopnick (4th from left, clarinetist) became nationally known stars during the swing era after playing in most of the best local bands.

Above: Louis Prima And His New Orleans Gang, 1936. Also known as Louis Prima And The Gang, they recorded such songs as "Pennies From Heaven", "Rosalie", "Exactly Like You", and "Sing, Sing, Sing" for the Brunswick label (1934-1936). Louis Prima is seated in front holding sheet music. Next to him is the band's female vocalist, Velma Raye (aka Velma Rae). The sheet music is Prima's theme song, "'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans". Both Prima and Raye were from New Orleans.

Above: Majestic 7159 A label. The side was recorded in April 1944, but not released on the Majestic or Hit labels until 1945.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" - Louis Prima And His Orchestra - Majestic 7159 A - 1945.

Above: Louis Prima's Swing Band circa 1935. Prima is in front playing the trumpet. All of the members were from New Orleans. Louis Prima, trumpet, vocalist, and arranger; "Pee Wee" Russell, clarinet; Gary McAdams, guitar; John Ryan, bass; and Frank Pinera, piano.

Above: CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, August 23, 1936:
The Wizard of the Trumpet, Louis Prima, brings his orchestra this week to the Lookout House, where he conjures silver magic from his instrument.
(NOTE: This is a different shot of the same photo shown further above. Velma Raye and Louis Prima are seated in front.)

Louis Prima and his famopus five, Italian exponents of Harlem hot-cha. What a combination! It's hard to believe that five men could make so much noise. But what they lack in number they make up for in action, individually and what they term "goin' to town." ....Louis directs the frenzied activities, fairly prancing before the mike. The theme, "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans," proclaims their home town.

The organization became a name band only a few months ago when CBS put a line into a small, unpretentious down-two-steps restaurant where they were playing in New York. Meet the boys: Louis Prima, trumpet, vocalist, arranger; "Pee Wee" Russell, clarinet; Gary McAdams, guitar; John Ryan, bass; and Frank Pinera, piano.

Above Middle: CHICAGO TRIBUNE, October 18, 1936.

Above Right: CHICAGO TRIBUNE, September 20, 1936. PRIMA AND SONGSTRESS
Louis Prima, famous New Orleans maestro, who brings his new "Primastyle" orchestra to the Blackhawk restaurant for a fall and winter engagement beginning Oct. 1. Louis is demonstrating a few high notes to his songstress, Velma Rae. Prima's orchestra will be heard on a nightly schedule exclusively over W-G-N and the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Above Left: CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, August 16, 1936.
Velma Raye is the charming vocalist with Louis Prima's Orchestra, featured this week at New Lookout House.

Vocal queens greet Dick Jurgens, the young California maestro, on his arrival in Chicago to direct his orchestra in their engagement at the Drake Hotel. Left to right are Velma Raye, songstress with the Louis Prima orchestra, and Nancy Nelson, new vocalist for Jurgens....

Above Left: SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUN, November 6, 1938.
Louis Prima plays a benefit for the parochial school he once attended. His sister, now Sister Mary Ann, is in the front row, second from left.

Above Right: PRESS AND SUN BULLETIN (Binghamton, NY), October 10, 1940. (The return of Louis Prima And His Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra, featuring, among others, The Gleebonairs.)

Above Left: THE TIMES (Munster, IN), December 17, 1943. Louis Prima, along with his brother, Leon Prima (One Man Band with a Band), and featuring his female vocalist, Lilyann Carol, and his star drummer, Jimmy Vincent, apparently performing male vocalist duties. Leon Prima, like his brother, was a trumpeter.

Above Right: THE TIMES, May 16, 1943. On the Paramount theater stage today in person is Louis Prima and his famed orchestra, featuring Lilyann Carol and a talented cast in a sparkling revue, plus headline vaudeville....

Above Left: PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, January 25, 1944.

Above Middle: BOSTON GLOBE, February 8, 1944.
WEE SONGSTRESS—Bonnie Baker, the cute kid with the shy voice, sings with Louis Prima's band, opening Thursday at the RKO Boston Theatre.
(NOTE: Lilyann Carol was with Louis Prima in 1944. Other than this one blurb, no evidence was found that Bonnie was ever a member of Louis Prima's orchestra.)

Far Right: HARTFORD COURANT, November 10, 1944.


EXTRA AUDIO #1 (Windows Media Player) BONNIE BAKER:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE LEFT: Vocalion 4805 label. This side was recorded on April 2, 1939.

ABOVE MIDDLE: Photo of Bonnie Baker. J. Willis Sayre was a theatrical critic, journalist, arts promoter, and historian, who lived in Seattle. [Photo is from the J. Willis Sayre collection.]

ABOVE RIGHT: Sheet music for "Billy" featuring Bonnie Baker and Orin [sic] Tucker's orchestra.

AT LEFT: Vocalion 4914 label. This side also recorded on April 2, 1939.

1. "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" - Bonnie Baker And The Bodyguards - Vocalion 4805 - 1939.
2. "Billy" - Bonnie Baker - Vocalion 4914 - 1939. [No vocal group backing.]

BOTH SIDES played in sequence.

Above: THE BILLBOARD 1943 YEARBOOK. Notice that their star drummer, Jimmy Vincent, gets the prime position at front of the orchestra, just in back of Lilyann Carol and Louis Prima. The "Universal Featurette" is probably "New Orleans Blues", a thirty-minute short released in November 1943.

EXTRA AUDIO #2 (Windows Media Player) LILY ANN CAROL:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE LEFT: Majestic 7134 label. This side was recorded in February 1945. OTHERS ABOVE: Photos of Lily Ann Carol. First and third are from J. Willis Sayre collection.

ABOVE LEFT: Signature 15281-A label.


#1—CHICAGO TRIBUNE, November 4, 1945: Lilyann Carol is the lovely girl who sings so sweetly with Louis Prima's band at the Hotel Sherman, and who is such a good foil for his comedy.

#2—DAILY NEWS, July 8, 1944: Lilyann Carol sings with Louis Prima's band at the Strand and on the Astor Roof. A New York girl, she has been with Prima for four years and claims this is some sort of record for a band singer.

#3—DETROIT FREE PRESS, March 28, 1945: Vivacious Vocalist Lily Ann Carol is featured singer with Louis Prima and his orchestra, coming to the Downtown stage Friday.

#4—MONTCLAIR TIMES, September 10, 1940: Lillian Carroll [sic], who is one of the featured vocalists, appearing nightly, with Louis Prima's orchestra now at the Chatterbox, a dinner club on Route 29, Mountainside. Bob Stuart and Jack Powers are the other two vocalists.

The Cash Box Review (8/19/50): LILY ANN CAROL — SIGNATURE 15281.... Let George Play It/Lazy River
Pair of fair enough sides for music ops to take a peek at these offered by chirp Lily Ann Carol, with the Ray Bloch ork backing. Top deck is a corn fed item, that has the thrush matching the tone of the up tempo player piano. Flip is an oldie with some jazz tones injected. Ops in market for a filler item might use this biscuit.

1. "Bell Bottom Trousers" - Louis Prima Orchestra (Vocal by Lily Ann Carol) - Majestic 7134 - 1945.
2. "Let George Play It" - Lily Ann Carol - Signature 15281-A - 1950.

BOTH SIDES played in sequence.

Above: THE BILLBOARD: (Left) dated 10/14/44 and (Right) 2/3/45.

At Left: Hit 7125 label, recorded in June 1944. It was re-issued on Majestic 7125 in 1945.

(NOTE: The Majestic Radio Corporation acquired the Hit Records catelog in 1945 to start their Majestic Record label. That is why there are many of the same sides on both labels. Due to bad management and inferior quality pressings, Majestic went out of business in 1948, selling their assets and recording masters to Mercury Records.)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"I Wanna Get Married" - Louis Prima Orchestra (Vocal by Lilyann Carol) - Hit 7125 - 1945.

Above: Newspaper clippings: (Left) DETROIT FREE PRESS dated 3/31/45 and (Middle) BOSTON GLOBE dated 11/29/45. The photo of Louis Prima in the above left clipping is at least nine years old! (Right) Photos of Louis Prima and, in this case, look-a-like Jack Webb. The Prima photo is from the Boston Globe dated 4/18/45.


Louis Prima, the "New Orleans Five", and Pee Wee Russell present a "Battle of Music" nightly during the several Blackhawk restaurant floor shows. Other entertainers are Romo Vincent, comedian; Ruth and Billy Ambrose, dancers; and Velma Raye, vocalist with Prima's Orchestra. A complete edition of this review is presented every Sunday afternoon during the "tea-dance" sessions.

....We'd like to take this opportunity of telling the story of Velma Raye, the pretty young singer at the Club Continental. Miss Raye, one of that vast army of natives of New Orleans who are now in show business, was a stenographer in that fair City less than one year ago. Overcoming the objections of her parents to a career, she jumped off the boss' lap, threw away those big, black pencils, and invaded New York. Through the good offices of a friend she connected as a singer with Eddie Varzo's orchestra at the St. Moritz hotel in the big town. Now the plot thickens.

Tom Cassara, operator of the Continentale, went up to New York last fall to sign Lillian Carmen for her third successive season here. Unfortunately for Lillian, Sir Thomas checked into the St. Moritz and when he looked up from his soup that evening, there was Velma Raye singing before his very eyes. Tom stayed for 10 courses after seeing and hearing Velma. The result is that a contract was immediately drawn up, Cassara hopped the next train out of town, and Velma Raye is now in the eighth week of a Four week contract at the Continentale.

Louis Prima, his horn and a brand new band whizzed back to town yesterday, pulled up on the Brooklyn Strand's stage and started things to sizzling. Prima has been away from these parts for several months—too many months, judging by the reception the boys and girls gave him when he voiced his first "Be Happy", and the tumult they raised when he finally wound up his stint.

The Brooklyn Strand's clients are strictly jitterbugs. They stamp and they clap and they whistle when the show is in the groove. They applaud gently when it's in the rut. They know what they want, and they know when they're getting it. They're getting it at the Strand. Louis Prima and company, once they got going yesterday, were hot.

The Prima horn, adept at jittering among the top notes, takes part in only three numbers in the band's new show. One is the razzle-dazzle finale in which drummer Jimmy Vincent (one of the few who beat the skins with a straight face) goes to town. Another is the band's top-speed arrangement of "Sweet Georgia Brown" which makes Georgia more torrid than sweet. Prima still makes the balcony quiver when he hits the high ones.

....Lilyann Carol, who was a Fox amateur contest winner a year ago, has a sultry voice and a style of her own that the song pluggers will love. She puts new punch in "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" (composed, incidentally, by the Prima pianist" and "More Than You Know" hasn't sounded that way since Ruth Etting was the fashion. With "Daddy" she brings down the house. Lily is a show-stopper. The audience gets her back, or else....

(NOTE: Sol Marcus, pianist with the Prima orchestra at the time of this article, was one of four co-composers of "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire".)

Louis Prima and his band and revue, and Hollywood's latest all Negro movie hit—"Professor Creeps" will combine to give the Apollo Theater one of the finest stage and screen shows it has ever presented. This show will open a week's engagement beginning Friday.

Prima is a prime favorite at the Apollo, where his band appears about twice a year. His humor, clowning, and his excellence as a musician and a leader have brought him to the forefront and endeared him to theater-goers the country over. His band carries several "specialties", aside from Lilyann Carrol, his charming vocalist.

Stepping high, wide, and handsome, Louis Prima and his orchestra took charge of the stage show at the Earle yesterday, with "Top Man" unreeled as the screen feature. Maestro Prima knows his audiences, especially the younger element, and gave out with all he had, with the result that the audience almost became a part of the show. He has a style all his own which invites audience co-operation, and the audience responded with a will, clapping hands in rhythm and cheering the musicians along.

Prima and his brother, Leon, both play a mean trumpet and share honors leading the band. The novelty band number, "Chiribiribin", and "I'm in the Mood for Love" turned out to be musical conversations in many moods by all the boys, winding up with a trumpet duet by Prima and one of his men.

....Lilly Ann Carol, a dark-eyed, dark-haired little lady, sang three popular numbers, and the show wound up with "Sing, Sing, Sing" featuring Jimmy Vincent, drummer, who practically became a whirling dervish on the percussion instruments.

LISTEN (Using Windows Media Player): "Sing, Sing, Sing" - Louis Prima And His New Orleans Gang - Brunswick 7628 - 1936.

Louis Prima, the bandleader with the hot trumpet and the throaty Voice is not only a prime maker of hit songs through his inimitable renditions, but also the writer of a long list of popular numbers. One of prima's biggest successes was a tune entitled "Sing Sing Sing". Another Louis Prima song which had the whole country in a double-barreled dither was "Sing-A-Spell", a novelty which Kay Kyser featured on innumerable broadcasts. Louis's famous "Be Happy" was adopted by the band as a slogan and general order of the day. Other Prima hits include "Where Have We Met Before", "I Still Want You", "It's the Rhythm in Me", "Percy Have Mercy", and a score of others.

When Prima appears in person for a dance job he is a host and a master of ceremonies extraordinary. You'll find him dancing among the crowd or leading a long conga line or leading a community sing. For fun and frolic and real dance music don't miss Louis Prima at Lakewood.

Louis Prima, gravel-throated Trumpeter, who appears at Lakewood on Tuesday night with his well bunch of music-makers, has built himself up to one of the foremost "in person" band favorites in the land by his strictly "on the beam" rhythm, his super-singer singing of novelties and the all-around entertainment value offered by his organization.

A unique combination of top-drawer modern swing idiom and old style N'Orleans jazz has made Louis's music a "must" for dancing feet and for those who just-like-to-listen, as well. Louis's torrid trumpeting adds much to the enjoyment of both classes.

The Prima brand of fine dance music has been featured at many of America's Finest clubs and hotels, including the Hotel Astor in New York City, the Meadowbrook in New Jersey, the Hotel Sherman, Chicago, and the Park Central in New York City.

On stage, Louis's throaty voice, his growling trumpet and his many shenanigans and the all-around spark of his band's show have long made the Prima outfit one of the top box-office drawers in the land. At such theaters as the Earl in Philadelphia, the RKO in Boston, the Palace in Cleveland, and many more throughout the land, Louis has done better than average. At the Strand Theater in New York City in 1945, he broke the all-time attendance and box office record. Had stood for 30 years and practically every big-name band had had a chance to shoot at it since the stage policy went into effect some years ago. But it remained for Prima to smash the box-office figure to smithereens.

At the Adams Theater in Newark, which is considered to be a very representative house for bands to test its popularity, Prima did the near-impossible. He broke the attendance record. A few hours later, Lionel Hampton's Band came in and beat Louis's Mark by a few hundred dollars. A few months later Louis returned and topped Hampton's figure. Within six months Louis had established two records at one house. To further prove that Prima can be listed as one of the nation's leading theater draws, he was the only band in the country to play the Downtown Theater in Detroit three times within a 12 month period. It is now a recognized and established fact that Louis Prima's appearance at a theater, is enough to start lines forming at the box office an hour or two before the show is to start.

In addition, Louis's voice and personality are known to the country at large through his wide-selling records, his many network dance broadcasts besides his guest shots on such popular radio shows as "Spotlight Bands" and "Million Dollar Band", and in many big-budget films.

Louis Prima, the trumpet man who makes you want to smile over the entertainment chores at Lakewood on Tuesday night, will display that brand of pleasant nonsense and rhythmic tempos which make his orchestra a standout favorite

On stage, Prima literally lives his song slogan "Be Happy", and his infectious shenanigans and gravel throated vocals invariably meet with a hearty reception. A great showman, he imparted his contingent the same ability to please an audience and, as a result, they staged a sparkling program. Lovable Louis is an established favorite with dancers the country over. They like his unique, distinctive rhythms that combine the best of modern swing and N'Orleans rhythm in a fashion that makes for easy dancing as well as interesting listening.

The Prima orchestra has played successful engagements at the Hotel Astor, New York City; the Park Central Hotel, New York City; the Hotel Sherman, Chicago; the Famous Door, Hollywood; the Strand Theater, New York City; and many other leading theaters and dancing spots. During some of these engagements, the Prima music was aired on the major networks.

As difficult and tiring as we found traveling, Prima and his boys always welcome the chance to do a show for the service men and women via the Coca-Cola Spotlight Band Program. The servicemen "went wild" over the gravel-throated trumpeter when he let his hair down and got "on the beam" with that solid trumpet. Prima really pours his heart and soul in that trumpet as we can all hear in the recordings of "Robin Hood", "Angelina" and "Hitsum-Kitsum". Lilyann Carol, featured with Louis Prima and through the medium of the Coca-Cola programs, was picked as the typical pin-up girl of the boys in uniform.

Movie-goers know Prima well, too, for his appearance in such hits as "You Can't Have Everything", "Rose of Washington Square", "Rhythm on the Range", "Start Cheering", and "Manhattan-Merry-Go-Round". Prima's recording for Majestic enjoys a consistently good sale and contributes substantially towards his ever-increasing popularity.

Above: Poster for the 1937 movie "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round". Louis Prima's band backs up Phil Regan singing "I Owe You".

Above Left: Label image of Varsity 8166 recorded in January 1940 and released that year.

Above Right: Label image of Majestic 1016 released in 1944. "Angelina" was the first name of Louis Prima's mother. It was recorded in April 1944 and the flip "Robin Hood" was recorded in February 1944. "Angelina" had previously come out on Hit 7106 and "Robin Hood" on Hit 7083. Prima would later become an owner of and record for the Robin Hood record label.

Above Left: Label image of Majestic 1037 A recorded in November 1945 and released in 1945.

Above Left: Label image of Hit 7109 recorded in April 1944 and released in 1944. This side was also issued on Majestic 7154 in 1945.

Above Left: Label image of Hit 7123 recorded in June 1944 and released that year.

Above Right: Label image of Majestic 7151 recorded in June 1945 and released in 1945.

The Billboard Review (9/29/45):

LOUIS PRIMA — Majestic 7151....Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?
Louis Prima adds to his prestige on the platters with his knock-'em-down singing and trumpeting on this rhythm spin. The swing hymnal is a natural for the gravel-throated maestro and his gut-bucket trumpeting. The juke set will feed plenty of nickels to the machine to find out "Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?" Moreover, they'll take plenty of delight in the way Louis Prima tells them.

NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.

Listen to this week's selections featuring Louis Prima on Varsity/Majestic/Hit from 1940-1945 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. Sing-A-Spell
          2. Angelina
          3. Robin Hood
          4. It Takes A Long Tall Brown-Skin Gal
          5. The White Cliffs Of Dover
          6. I Want To Go To Tokio
          7. Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?
          played in sequence.
          played in sequence

          [To download audio files, right-click on song title
          link and then click "Save link (target) as..."]