Saturday, 27 December 2014


BLACK               SOCIAL           HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                      

 Lionel Hampton

Lionel Hampton
Birth nameLionel Leo Hampton
Also known as"Gates", "Hamp", "Mad Lionel"
BornApril 20, 1908
LouisvilleKentucky, United States
DiedAugust 31, 2002 (aged 94)
New York CityNew York, United States
GenresSwingBig bandMainstream jazzNew York blues
Years active1927–2002
Associated actsBenny GoodmanTeddy WilsonQuincy JonesLouis ArmstrongGloria Parker
Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 – August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonistpianistpercussionistbandleader and actor. Hampton ranks among the greatest names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Louis ArmstrongBenny Goodman, and Buddy Rich to Charlie ParkerCharles Mingus, and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.


Early life

Lionel Hampton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1908, and was raised by his grandmother. Shortly after he was born, he and his mother moved to her hometown Birmingham, Alabama.[1][2][3] He spent his early childhood in KenoshaWisconsin, before he and his family moved to ChicagoIllinois, in 1916. As a youth, Hampton was a member of the Bud Billiken Club, an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, which was off limits because of racial segregation.[4] During the 1920's—while still a teenager—Hampton took xylophone lessons from Jimmy Bertrand and started playing drums.[5] Hampton was raised Roman Catholic, and started out playing fife and drum at the Holy Rosary Academy near Chicago.[6][7]

Early career

Lionel Hampton began his career playing drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band (led by Major N. Clark Smith) while still a teenager in Chicago. He moved to California in 1927 or 1928, playing drums for the Dixieland Blues-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. One of his trademarks as a drummer was his ability to do stunts with multiple pairs of sticks such as twirling and juggling without missing a beat.[8] 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 in the process.[9] Invented ten years earlier, thevibraphone is essentially a xylophone with metal bars, a sustain pedal, and resonators equipped with electric-powered fans that that add vibrato.[10]
While working with the Les Hite band, Hampton also occasionally did some performing with Nat Shilkret and his orchestra. During the early 1930s he studied music at theUniversity of Southern California. In 1934 he led his own orchestra, and then appeared in the Bing Crosby film Pennies From Heaven (1936) alongside Louis Armstrong (wearing a mask in a scene while playing drums).[11]

With Benny Goodman

As far as I'm concerned, what he did in those days—and they were hard days in 1937—made it possible for Negroes to have their chance in baseball and other fields.
Lionel Hampton on Benny Goodman[12]
Also in November 1936,[13] the Benny Goodman Orchestra came to Los Angeles to play the Palomar Ballroom. When John Hammond brought Goodman to see Hampton perform, Goodman invited him to join his trio, which thus became the celebrated Benny Goodman Quartet with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa completing the lineup. The Trio and Quartet were among the first racially integrated jazz groups to perform before audiences,[14][15] and were a leading small-group of the day.

Lionel Hampton Orchestra

Lionel Hampton at the Aquarium, New York, c.June 1946 (photograph: William Gottlieb)
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.[16]
Hampton's orchestra became 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 anticipated rhythm & blues. Although Hampton first recorded "Flying Home" under his own name with a small group in 1940 for Victor, the best and most famous version is the big band version recorded for Decca on May 26, 1942 in a new arrangement by Hampton's pianist Milt Buckner.[17] The selection became 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.[18] In 1947 he performed "Stardust" at a "Just Jazz" concert for producer Gene Norman, also featuring Charlie Shavers and Slam Stewart; the recording was issued by Norman's label GNP Crescendo.
From the mid-1940s until the early 1950s, Hampton led a lively rhythm & blues band whose Decca Records recordings included numerous young performers who later achieved fame. They included bassist Charles Mingus, saxophonist Johnny Griffin, guitarist Wes Montgomery, vocalist Dinah Washington and keyboardist Milt Buckner. Other noteworthy band members were trumpeters Dizzy GillespieCat Anderson,Kenny Dorham, and Snooky Young; trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, and saxophonists Illinois Jacquet and Jerome Richardson.
The Hampton orchestra that toured Europe in 1953 included Clifford BrownGigi GryceAnthony OrtegaMonk MontgomeryGeorge WallingtonArt FarmerQuincy Jones, and singer Annie Ross. Hampton continued to record with small groups and jam sessions during the 1940s and 1950s, with Oscar PetersonBuddy DeFranco, and others. In 1955, while in California working on The Benny Goodman Story he recorded with Stan Getz and made two albums with Art Tatum for Norman Granz as well as with his own big band.
Hampton performed with Louis Armstrong and Italian singer Lara Saint Paul at the 1968 Sanremo Music Festival in Italy. The performance created a sensation with Italian audiences, as it broke into a real jazz session.[19] That same year, Hampton received a Papal Medal from Pope Paul VI.

Later career[edit]

Lionel Hampton during a concert in Aachen (Germany) on May 19, 1977
During the 1960s, Hampton's groups were in decline; he was still performing what had succeeded for him earlier in his career. He did not fare much better in the 1970s, though he recorded actively for his Who's Who in Jazz record label, which he founded in 1977/1978.[20][21]
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 led to a 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.[22][23][24]
Lionel Hampton died from congestive heart failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, on 31 August 2002.[25] He was interred at 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.[26][27]

Personal life

On November 11, 1936, in Yuma, Arizona, Lionel Hampton married Gladys Riddle (c. 1910-1971).[28] Gladys was Lionel's business manager throughout much of his career. Many musicians recall that Lionel ran the music and Gladys ran the business.
During the 1950's 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.[29] Hampton was a Thirty-third degree Prince Hall free mason in New York, also.[30] In January 1997, his apartment caught fire and destroyed his awards and belongings; Hampton escaped uninjured.[31]

President George W. Bush honors Lionel Hampton during a ceremony recognizing Black Music Month in the East Room of theWhite House on June 30, 2001.


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 1960's, with the help of then Republic governor Nelson Rockefeller. Hampton's wife, Gladys Hampton, also was 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.[32] He served as Vice-Chairman of the New York Republican County Committee for some years[33] and also was a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission.[34] Hampton donated almost $300,000 to Republican campaigns and committees throughout his lifetime.[35]



1937–39Benny Goodman -The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordingsalong with Teddy Wilson, appearing as sideman with Benny GoodmanRCA Records
1937–39Hot Mallets, Vol. 1appearances by Cootie WilliamsJohnny HodgesHarry JamesBenny Carter,Chu BerryRex StewartDizzy GillespieColeman HawkinsBen Webster,Charlie ChristianBluebird Records
1937–39The Jumpin Jive, Vol. 2Bluebird Records
1938The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concertappearance as sideman for Benny GoodmanColumbia Records
1939–40Tempo and Swingappearances by Ben WebsterColeman HawkinsNat "King" Cole and Helen ForrestBluebird Records
1944Star Dustthe famous "Just Jazz" jam sessionVerve Records
1947with the Just Jazz All StarsCharlie ShaversWillie Smith, Corky Corcoran, Milt BucknerSlam Stewart, Jackie Mills, Lee YoungGNP Crescendo/Vogue 78s/London Records 1972 transfer
1953–54The Lionel Hampton Quintetwith DeFranco and Peterson. Includes a 17 minute jam on "Flyin Home". There is also a 5CD box of the complete Verve recordings of the quartets and quintets with Peterson, as well as a number of other compilations and selections.Verve Records
1955Hamp and GetzVerve Records
1958Golden Vibeswith a reed quintetColumbia Records
1958LionelAudio Fidelity
1960Silver Vibeswith a Trombones And Rhythms (Trombone Quartet)Columbia Records
1963Benny Goodman Together Again!reunion with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson & Gene KrupaColumbia Records
1963You Better Know It!!!with Clark TerryBen WebsterHank JonesMilt HintonOsie JohnsonImpulse! Records
1972Please SunriseBrunswick Record Corporation
1979Live In Emmen/HollandTimeless Muse
1988Mostly BluesJazz Heritage Society
1991Live at the Blue Notejamming with old friends including trombonist Al GreyColumbia Records
1995For the Love of Musicfeaturing Norman Brown, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Chaka Khan, Tito Puente, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, Grover Washington Jr., and Stevie WonderMotown Record Company
37–40Swing Classics - Lionel Hampton and His Jazz GroupsRecordings from 1937-1940 Reissued 1961RCA Victor LPM-2318
39–56Greatest HitsSelections from above recordsRCA Victor
37–63The Lionel Hampton StorySelections from all records and eras aboveProper


1933Girl Without A RoomhimselfRalph MurphyComedy
1936Pennies From HeavenhimselfNorman Z. McLeodComedy/Musical
1937Hollywood HotelhimselfBusby BerkeleyMusical/Romance
1938For Auld Lang Synehimself?Documentary
1948A Song Is BornhimselfHoward HawksComedy/Musical
1949Lionel Hampton and His OrchestrahimselfWill CowanMusic
1955Musik, Musik and nur MusikhimselfErnst MatrayComedy
1955The Benny Goodman StoryhimselfValentine DaviesDrama
1957Mister Rock and RollhimselfCharles S. DubinDrama/Musical
1980But Then She's Betty CarterhimselfMichelle ParkersonDocumentary