Born in New Orleans’ French Quarter, Louis Prima longed to play jazz. When he was a child, he studied the violin. His older brother Leon took up trumpet while Louis was still quite young, and he soon followed in his brother’s footsteps. He played in clubs like “The Famous Door” in the 1930s, and by the time the 1940s rolled around, Prima and his band were becoming well known. Like many other big bands, Prima always had a woman singer, his most famous being Keely Smith, with whom he recorded the classic “That Old Black Magic”. She began with him when she was 16 years old, and he eventually married her. They were divorced in 1962, and he married 20-year-old Gia Maione that same year. In 1967 Prima voiced King Louie of the apes in the animated Disney feature The Jungle Book (1967). Prima died in 1978, but his music continues as some of the best jazz and swing music ever recorded.
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