Lionel Hampton

Lionel Hampton

Infobox musical artist
Name = Lionel Leo Hampton

Img_capt = Lionel Hampton during a concert in Aachen (Germany) on May 19, 1977
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Lionel Leo Hampton
Alias = "Hamp", "Mad Lionel"
Born = Birth date|1908|4|20
in Birmingham, Alabama or Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Died = death date and age|2002|8|31|1908|4|20
Origin =
Instrument = Vibraphone, Drums, Piano, Vocals
Voice_type =
Genre = Swing, Big band, Mainstream jazz, New York blues
Occupation = Multi-instrumentalist, Singer, Actor, Composer
Years_active = 1927-2002
Label = Decca
Associated_acts = Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong
Notable_instruments =

Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908–August 31, 2002), was an American jazz vibraphonist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.


Early life

Lionel Hampton was born in 1908 and was raised by his grandmother. Sources disagree as to whether he was born in Louisville, Kentucky, Birmingham, Alabama, or Dayton, Ohio [cite news |last = Giddins |first = Gary | title = Lionel Hampton, 1908–2002; After 75 Years Onstage, a Well-Earned Rest |publisher = The Village Voice |url =,giddins,38597,22.html |date = 2002-09-23 |accessdate = 2007-06-10] [ [ Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame] ] [ [ United States Marine Band Hall of Composers] ] . He spent his youth in Kenosha, Wisconsin before he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1916. As a child Hampton was a member of the Bud Billiken Club, an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America due to segregation. [cite book| last = Ehrenhalt| first = Alan| authorlink = Alan Ehrenhalt| title = The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America | publisher = Basic Books| date = 1996| page = 152| doi = | isbn = 0465041930] During the 1920s—while still a teenager—Hampton took xylophone lessons from Jimmy Bertrand and started playing drums. [cite book| last = Yanow| first = Scott| authorlink = Scott Yanow| title = Classic Jazz| publisher = Backbeat Books| date = 2001| page = 94| doi = | isbn = 0879306599] Hampton was raised Roman Catholic, and started out playing fife drum at the Holy Rosary Academy near Chicago. ["Ibid"; Voce, Steve]

Early career

Hampton began his career playing drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboy's Band while still a teenager in Chicago, a group that was led by a Major N. Clark Smith. He moved to California in 1927 or 1928, playing drums for the Dixieland Blue-Blowers. He made his recording debut with The Quality Serenaders led by Paul Howard, then left for Culver City and drummed for the Les Hite band at Sebastian's Cotton Club. During this period he began practicing on the vibraphone. In 1930 Louis Armstrong came to California and hired the Les Hite band, asking Hampton if he would play vibes on two songs. So began his career as a vibraphonist, popularizing the use of the instrument ever since. ["Ibid"; Yanow, Scott]

While working with the Les Hite band, Hampton also occasionally did some performing with Nat Shilkrer and his orchestra. During the early 1930s he studied music at the University of Southern California. In 1934 he led his own orchestra, and then appeared in the 1936 Bing Crosby film "Pennies From Heaven" alongside Louis Armstrong (wearing a mask in a scene while playing drums). [cite book| last = Britt| first = Stan| authorlink = Stan Britt| title = Dexter Gordon: A Musical Biography | publisher = Da Capo Press| date = 1989| page = 31| doi = | isbn = 0306803615]

With Benny Goodman

Also in November 1936, ["Ibid"; Yanow, Scott. Swing - The Third... ] the Benny Goodman Orchestra came to Los Angeles to play the Palomar Ballroom. John Hammond brought Goodman to see Hampton play. Hampton backed Billie Holiday with the Goodman orchestra, who was discovered by John Hammond. [cite book| last = Scott| first = William B.| authorlink = | title = New York Modern: The Arts and the City| publisher = Johns Hopkins University Press| date = 1999| page = p. 263| doi = | isbn = 0801867932] and Goodman asked Hampton to join the Benny Goodman Trio, made up of Goodman, Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa, expanding it into the Benny Goodman Quartet. The Trio and Quartet were among the first racially integrated jazz groups to record and play before wide audiences, [cite book| last = Firestone| first = Ross| authorlink = Ross Firestone| title = Swing, Swing, Swing: The Life & Times of Benny Goodman| publisher = W. W. Norton & Company| date = 1994| page = 183-184| doi = | isbn = 0393311686] ["Ibid"; Scott, William B.] and were a leading small-group in an era when jazz was dominated by big bands.

Lionel Hampton Orchestra

While Hampton worked for Goodman in New York, he recorded with several different small groups known as the Lionel Hampton Orchestra as well as assorted small groups within the Goodman band. In 1940 Hampton left the Goodman organization under amicable circumstances to form his own big band. [cite book| last = Yanow| first = Scott| authorlink = Scott Yanow| title = Swing: Third Ear--The Essential Listening Companion | publisher = Backbeat Books| date = 2000| page = p. 68| doi = | isbn = 0879306009]

Hampton's orchestra became very popular during the 1940s and early 1950s. His third recording with them in 1942 produced a classic version of "Flying Home", featuring a solo by Illinois Jacquet that paved the way for Rhythm & Blues. The selection became very popular, and so in 1944 Hampton recorded "Flying Home, Number Two" featuring Arnett Cobb. The song went on to become the theme song for all three men. Guitarist Billy Mackel first joined Hampton in 1944, and would perform and record with him almost continuously through the late 1970s. ["Billy Mackel", "The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz". ed. Barry Kernfeld, 1988.] In 1947 he recorded Stardust at a "Just Jazz" concert with Charlie Shavers and Slam Stewart.

Hampton's band played in a jazz, merged with rhythm & blues vein from around 1945 to the early 1950s. Represented in recordings on Decca Records, the band included performers that achieved renown in their own right in the 1950s and 1960s, composer and bassist Charles Mingus, saxophonist Johnny Griffin, guitarist Wes Montgomery, vocalist Dinah Washington and keyboardist Milt Buckner. Other noteworthy performers in the orchestra then included trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Cat Anderson, Kenny Dorham and Snooky Young, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland and saxophonists Illinois Jacquet and Jerome Richardson.

In 1953 the orchestra toured Europe with Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, George Wallington and Art Farmer in his lineup; Quincy Jones was arranger/trumpeter and Annie Ross sang. Hampton continued to record with small groups and jam sessions during the 1940s and 1950s, with groups including Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Buddy DeFranco among others. ["Ibid"; Yanow, Scott. Swing - The Third...] . In 1955 he was in California working on The Benny Goodman Story he was able to record sessions with Stan Getz and Art Tatum as well as with his own big band.

Later career

During the 1960s the public success of Hampton-led groups began to decline. The times were changing, and he was still performing what worked for him during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. He did not fare much better in the 1970s, though he recorded actively on the Who's Who Record label. ["Ibid"; Yanow, Scott. Swing - The Third...]

Beginning in February 1984, Hampton and his band played at the University of Idaho's annual jazz festival, which was renamed the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival the following year. In 1987 the UI's school of music was renamed for Hampton, the first university music school named for a jazz musician.

Hampton remained active until a stroke in Paris in 1991 forced him to collapse on stage. That incident, combined with years of chronic arthritis, forced him to cut back drastically on performances. However, he did play at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2001 shortly before his death. ["Ibid"; Yanow, Scott. Swing - The Third...] ["Ibid"; Voce, Steve]

Personal life

During the 1950s he had a strong interest in Judaism and raised money for Israel. In 1953 he composed a King David suite and performed it in Israel with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Later in life Hampton became a Christian Scientist. ["Ibid"; Voce, Steve] Hampton's wife was his manager throughout much of his career. Many musicians recall that Lionel ran the music and Gladys ran the business. Hampton was a Thirty-three degree Prince Hall freemason in New York, also. [cite book| last = Cox| first = Joseph| authorlink = | title = Great Black Men of Masonry | publisher = iUniverse| date = 2002| page = p. 176| doi = | isbn = 0595227295] In January 1997, his apartment caught fire and destroyed his awards and belongings; Hampton escaped uninjured. [cite web| last = Barron| first = James| title = PUBLIC LIVES; More Fallout From Lamp Fire| url=| accessdate = 2008-04-09]

Lionel Hampton died from congestive heart failure on August 31 2002 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and is interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York. His funeral was held on September 7, 2002 and featured a performance by Wynton Marsalis and David Ostwald's Gully Low Jazz Band at Riverside Church in Manhattan; the procession began at The Cotton Club in Harlem. [cite web| title = Funeral Services for Lionel Hampton| url=| accessdate = 2008-04-09]


Hampton was deeply involved in the construction of various public housing projects, and founded the Lionel Hampton Development Corporation. Construction began with the Lionel Hampton Houses in Harlem, New York in the 1960s, with the help of then Republican governor Nelson Rockefeller. Hampton's wife—Gladys Hampton—also was very involved in construction of a housing project in her name—the Gladys Hampton Houses. Gladys died in 1971. In the 1980s, Hampton built another Housing project called Hampton Hills in Newark, New Jersey. Hampton was a staunch Republican and served as a delegate to several Republican National Conventions during his lifetime. [cite book| last = Jackson| first = Jeffrey H.| authorlink = | title = Music And History: Bridging The Disciplines | publisher = University Press of Mississippi| date = 2005| page = p.102| doi = | isbn = 1578067626] He served as Vice-Chairman of the New York Republican County Committee for some years [cite web| last = | first = | title = Paid Notice: Deaths HAMPTON, LIONEL| url=| accessdate = 2007-06-03 ] and also was a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission. ["Ibid"; Voce, Steve]


*2001 - Harlem Jazz and Music Festival's Legend Award
*1996 - National Medal of Arts presented by President Bill Clinton
*1995 - Honorary Commissioner of Civil Rights by George Pataki
*1995 - Honorary Doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music
*1993 - Honorary Doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore
*1992 - Inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
*1992 - "Contributions To The Cultural Life of the Nation" award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
*1988 - The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship
*1988 - The National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award
*1987 - Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Idaho - UI's School of Music renamed "Lionel Hampton School of Music."
*1987 - The Roy Wilkins Memorial Award from the NAACP
*1986 - The "One of a Kind" Award from Broadcast Music, Inc.
*1984 - Jazz Hall of Fame Award from the Institute of Jazz Studies
*1984 - Honorary Doctorate of Music from USC
*1983 - The International Film and Television Festival of New York City Award
*1983 - Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York
*1982 - Hollywood Walk of Fame Star
*1981 - Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Glassboro State College
*1979 - Honorary Doctorate of Music from Howard University
*1978 - Bronze Medallion from New York City
*1976 - Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Daniel Hale Williams University
*1975 - Honorary Doctorate of Music from Xavier University of Louisiana
*1974 - Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Pepperdine University
*1968 - Papal Medal from Pope Paul VI
*1966 - George Frederick Handel Medal
*1957 - American Goodwill Ambassador by President Dwight D. Eisenhower
*1954 - Israel's Statehood Award



External links

* Christopher Popa, "Lionel Hampton: Music Was His Fountain of Youth," Big Band Library []
* [ Lionel Hampton's Gravesite]
* [ "Gene Krupa - What's New(s)"]
* [ Lionel Hampton at IMDB]
* [ Official website of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame]

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