April 20, 1908 - August 31, 2002
Born in Louisville, Kentucky (April 1908), Hampton (a multi-instrumentalist best known for his vibrophone skills) was raised in Chicago. After being taught the snare drum by a Dominican nun at Kenosha, Wisconsin's Holy Rosary Academy, he returned to Chicago, where he joined the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band, and picked up the tympani & marimba.
After working with Detroit Shannon, Curtis Mosby, Vernon Elkins, Paul Howard and Reb Spikes, he went to Los Angeles to back Louis Armstrong in his Cotton Club gigs there. In LA, he met his future wife and business manager Gladys Riddle, a dancer who bought him his first set of "vibes" and encouraged him to study music theory at the University of Southern California.
He formed his own band (so he could feature himself on the vibrophone), and was playing regularly at the Paradise Cafe when Benny Goodman came in (with Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson). They played together that night, and 6 weeks later recorded material together. From the success of that recording, Hampton also worked with Billy Holiday and Mildred Bailey, and remained with Goodman through 1940.
His big band -- by 1986, the longest-running orchestra in jazz history -- included such luminaries as Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Joe Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, Lee Young, Ernie Royal, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, and Dinah Washington. He toured occasionally with the big band, and with his Golden Men of Jazz, which includes Terry, Harry Edison, among others).
He also had a small group, Lionel Hampton's Inner Circle, ran his own publishing companies, a record label (Who's Who in Jazz), founded the Lionel Hampton Development Coproration, which built 2 multi-million dollar apartment complexes in Harlem, and worked in politics.
His notable recorded output includes Early Hamp (1929-38; Affinity), The Complete Lionel Hampton Vols. 1/2 & 3/4 (1937-9; RCA Jazz Tribune), Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra (1942-9; Giants of Jazz), Stardust (1947; MCA), European Tour (1953; Royal Jazz), Hamp's Big Band (1959; RCA), You Better Know It!!! (1964; Impulse), Made In Japan (1982; Timeless), and Benny Goodman's After You've Gone (Avalon).
Got a correction? Click
Pages linking to this one include: