The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

Louis Prima, “Oh Maire!”

Louis Prima was born in 1910 in New Orleans. He was a famed vocalist and trumpet player in the big band era who often collaborated with his wife, female vocalist Keely Smith. A proud Italian American, Prima would go on to record songs in both Italian and English. Prima was always generous to fans and would often sign autographs and take pictures with his big smile. However, the same loving nature was never extending to labels or hollywood executives, Warner Brothers once offered him sixty Thousand dollars to appear in a movie based on the life of actress, Helen Morgan. Prima refused stating that he wanted one hundred thousand for the picture. That was Prima’s style. He had expensive taste, he loved to wear luxury suits and even grew so fond of horse racing he bought a stable. However, the fun couldn’t last for the larger than life figure, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage prima ended up in a coma he would not awake from. Before passing his family moved him back to New Orleans, his true love, where he was buried in Metairie Cemetery. Atop his grave sits a marble statue of Gabriel playing his trumpet just as Prima once did.

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