Lionel Hampton, 1946
Photo by William P. Gottlieb
|Lionel Leo Hampton|
April 20, 1908|
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||August 31, 2002
New York City, New York
|Genres||Swing, big band, mainstream jazz, blues|
|Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong, Gloria Parker|
Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 - August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Hampton worked with jazz musicians from Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1996.
Lionel Hampton was born in 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky, and was raised by his mother. Shortly after he was born, he and his mother moved to her hometown Birmingham, Alabama. He spent his early childhood in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, 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. During the 1920s--while still a teenager--Hampton took xylophone lessons from Jimmy Bertrand and started playing drums. Hampton was raised Roman Catholic, and started out playing fife and drum at the Holy Rosary Academy near Chicago.
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. 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. Invented ten years earlier, the vibraphone is essentially a xylophone with metal bars, a sustain pedal, and resonators equipped with electric-powered fans that add tremolo.
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 the University 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).
Also in November 1936, 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, and were a leading small-group of the day.
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.
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. The selection became popular, and so in 1944 Hampton recorded "Flyin' Home #2" 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. In 1947, Hamp performed "Stardust" at a "Just Jazz" concert for producer Gene Norman, also featuring Charlie Shavers and Slam Stewart; the recording was issued by Decca. Norman's GNP Crescendo label issued the remaining tracks from the concert.
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 Gillespie, Cat 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 Brown, Gigi Gryce, Anthony Ortega, Monk Montgomery, George Wallington, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones, and singer Annie Ross. Hampton continued to record with small groups and jam sessions during the 1940s and 1950s, with Oscar Peterson, Buddy 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. That same year, Hampton received a Papal Medal from Pope Paul VI.
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.
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.
Lionel Hampton died from congestive heart failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, on August 31, 2002. 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.
On November 11, 1936, in Yuma, Arizona, Lionel Hampton married Gladys Riddle (1913-1971). 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 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. Hampton was also a Thirty-third degree Prince Hall freemason. In January 1997, his apartment caught fire and destroyed his awards and belongings; Hampton escaped uninjured.
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 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. He served as Vice-Chairman of the New York Republican County Committee for some years and also was a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission. Hampton donated almost $300,000 to Republican campaigns and committees throughout his lifetime.
|1937-39||Benny Goodman - The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings [3CD]||along with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa, appearing as a sideman for Benny Goodman||RCA/BMG 68764|
|1937-39||Hot Mallets, Vol. 1||the All-Star groups including appearances by Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Harry James, Benny Carter, Chu Berry, Ziggy Elman, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Charlie Christian||Bluebird RCA 6458-2-RB|
|1937-39||The Jumpin' Jive, Vol. 2||the All-Star groups including appearances by Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Chu Berry, Ziggy Elman, Dizzy Gillespie||Bluebird RCA 2433-2-RB|
|1938||The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert [2LP]||along with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa, appearing as a sideman for Benny Goodman||Columbia SL-160|
|1939-40||Tempo And Swing, Vol. 3||the All-Star groups including appearances by Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Nat "King" Cole, Oscar Moore, Helen Forrest||Bluebird RCA 66039-2|
|1945||All American Award Concert||recorded April 15, 1945 at Carnegie Hall||Decca DL-8088 (12" LP)|
|1947||Gene Norman Presents Just Jazz (AKA The "Original" Star Dust)||the famous "Just Jazz" jam session; recorded August 4, 1947 at the Civic Auditorium, Pasadena CA||Decca DL-7013 (10" LP); DL-9055 (12" LP); DL-74194|
|1947||Lionel Hampton With The Just Jazz All Stars||second volume of the previous set; with Charlie Shavers, Willie Smith, Corky Corcoran, Milt Buckner, Slam Stewart, Jackie Mills, Lee Young||GNP Crescendo GNP-15 (12" LP)/various Vogue 78s/London Records (1972 transfer)|
|1947||Hamp's Boogie Woogie||a 4-disc collection of 78rpm recordings: #23836, #23837, #23838, #23839, includes 6 tracks by Hampton & His Orchestra, plus 1 track by His Septet, and 1 track by His Quartet||Decca A-523; DL-5230 (10" LP)|
|1948||New Movements In Be-Bop||a 4-disc collection of 78rpm recordings: #24428, #24429, #24430, #24431, includes 4 tracks by Hampton & His Orchestra, and 4 tracks by Hampton & His Sextet||Decca A-661; DL-5222 (10" LP)|
|1951||Moonglow||a 4-disc collection of 78rpm recordings: #27372, #27373, #27374, #27375, includes 8 tracks by Hampton & His Sextet; the 12" LP contains three extra tracks||Decca A-804; DL-5297 (10" LP); DL-8230 (12" LP)|
|1953||Lionel Hampton's Paris All Stars (AKA Jazz Time Paris)||a CD compilation of Vogue LD-166, LD-167, LD-168 (all 10" LPs); all material recorded September 28, 1953||RCA/BMG 51150|
|1953||Hamp In Paris||recorded November 30, 1953; with Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow||EmArcy MG-26037 (10" LP); MG-36032 (12" LP)|
|1953||Crazy Hamp||second volume of the previous set; both 10" LPs (8 tracks worth) reissued on the 12" LP||EmArcy MG-26038 (10" LP); MG-36032 (12" LP)|
|1954||The Lionel Hampton Quintet||with Buddy DeFranco, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Buddy Rich; includes a 17-minute jam on "Flyin' Home". NOTE: there is also a 5CD box  of the complete Verve recordings of Hampton's quartets and quintets with Peterson, as well as a number of other compilations.||Clef MGC-628; Verve|
|1955||Crazy Rhythm||recorded March 18, 1955||EmArcy MG-36034|
|1955||Jam Session In Paris||second volume of the previous set||EmArcy MG-36035|
|1955||Hamp and Getz||with Stan Getz, Lou Levy, Leroy Vinnegar, Shelly Manne||Norgran MGN-1037; Verve|
|1955||Oh Rock!||contains 12 of the 21 tracks that Hampton & His Orchestra recorded for MGM in 1951||MGM E-285 (10" LP); E-3386 (12" LP)|
|1956||Wailin' At The Trianon||Columbia CL-711|
|1957||Jazz Flamenco||recorded June 30, 1956 in Madrid, Spain; with Maria Angelica on castanets||RCA Victor LPM-1422|
|1958||Lionel...Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano||Audio Fidelity AFSD-5849; Avid|
|1958||The High & The Mighty||Supervised by Norman Granz||Columbia 33CX10146|
|1959||Hamp's Big Band||Audio Fidelity AFSD-5913; Avid|
|1959||Golden Vibes||with Reeds And Rhythm (a reed quintet + rhythm section)||Columbia CL-1304/CS-8110; Collectables|
|1960||Silver Vibes||with Trombones And Rhythm (a trombone quartet + rhythm section)||Columbia CL-1486/CS-8277; Collectables|
|1961||Soft Vibes, Soaring Strings||Columbia CL-1661/CS-8461|
|1962||Many Splendored Vibes||Epic BA-16027|
|1963||The Great Hamp And Little T - Lionel Hampton & Charlie Teagarden In Person||recorded live at The Silver Slipper, Las Vegas||Coral CRL-757438|
|1964||Benny Goodman Quartet - Together Again!||the reunion with Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa||RCA Victor LPM-2698|
|1964||You Better Know It!!!||with Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson||Impulse! AS-78; GRP/Impulse! GRD-140|
|1972||Them Changes||Brunswick BL-754182; Versatile NED-1128|
|1973||Please Sunrise||Brunswick BL-754190|
|1973||There It Is!||Brunswick BL-754198|
|1974||Stop! I Don't Need No Sympathy!||Brunswick BL-754203|
|1974||Transition||with Zoot Sims, Teddy Wilson, George Duvivier, Buddy Rich||Groove Merchant GM-3302|
|1975||The Works! [2LP]||Groove Merchant GM-4400|
|1976||Off Into A Black Thing||Brunswick BL-754213|
|1977||Lionel Hampton And His Jazz Giants 77||with Cat Anderson, Eddie Chamblee, Milt Buckner, Billy Mackel||Black & Blue 33.107; BB-870|
|1977||Lionel Hampton And His Jazz Giants, Vol. 2||second volume of the previous set; 11 tracks from these sessions are reissued on the CD||Black & Blue 33.130; BB-870|
|1977||Presents Charles Mingus||A Tentet session of mostly Mingus compositions, numerous ballads, Lionel and Gerry Mulligan are the major soloists with Mingus playing bass.||Who's Who In Jazz - 21005|
|1978||Alive & Jumping||with Milt Buckner||MPS 15469|
|1978||Live At The Muzeval 1978 (AKA Live In Emmen/Holland)||Timeless SJP-120|
|1991||Live At The Blue Note||jamming with old friends including trumpeters Clark Terry and Harry "Sweets" Edison, tenors James Moody and Buddy Tate, trombonist Al Grey, pianist Hank Jones, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Grady Tate.||Telarc|
|1992||Just Jazz - Live At The Blue Note||second volume of the previous set; again with "The Golden Men of Jazz"||Telarc|
|1995||For The Love Of Music||featuring Norman Brown, Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Chaka Khan, Tito Puente, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen, Grover Washington Jr., Stevie Wonder||MoJazz/Motown|
|1937-40||Swing Classics - Lionel Hampton and His Jazz Groups||Recordings from 1937 to 1940; issued 1961||RCA Victor LPM-2318|
|1939-40 + 56||Greatest Hits - Lionel Hampton||Selections from various RCA Victor recordings||RCA/BMG 68496|
|1937-41||The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-1941 [5CD]||All of Hampton's RCA Victor recordings||Mosaic MD5-238|
|1942-50||Hamp's Golden Favorites - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Recordings from 1942 to 1950; issued 1962; reissued 1980||Decca DL-4296; MCA 204|
|1942-50||The Best Of Lionel Hampton [2LP]||Recordings from 1942 to 1950; issued 1975||MCA 2-4075|
|1942-44||Steppin' Out - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Recordings from 1942 to 1944; issued 1969; reissued 1980||Jazz Heritage Series; Decca DL-79244; MCA 1315|
|1945-46||Slide Hamp Slide - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Recordings from 1945 to 1946; issued 1980||Jazz Heritage Series; MCA 1323|
|1945-50||Sweatin' With Hamp - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Recordings from 1945 to 1950; issued 1980||Jazz Heritage Series; MCA 1331|
|1946-49||Rarities - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Recordings from 1946 to 1949; issued 1982||Jazz Heritage Series; MCA 1351|
|1942-63||Hamp - The Legendary Decca Recordings Of Lionel Hampton [2CD]||Selections from various Decca recordings||GRP/Decca Jazz GRD2-652|
|1937-49||The Lionel Hampton Story [4CD]||Selections from various RCA Victor and Decca recordings + AFRS and V-Disc||Proper BOX12|
note: every recording by Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra is included in this 12 volume series from the CLASSICS reissue label...
|1933||Girl Without A Room||himself||Ralph Murphy||Comedy|
|1936||Pennies From Heaven||himself||Norman Z. McLeod||Comedy/Musical|
|1937||Hollywood Hotel||himself||Busby Berkeley||Musical/Romance|
|1938||For Auld Lang Syne||himself||?||Documentary|
|1948||A Song Is Born||himself||Howard Hawks||Comedy/Musical|
|1949||Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||himself||Will Cowan||Music|
|1955||Musik, Musik and nur Musik||himself||Ernst Matray||Comedy|
|1955||The Benny Goodman Story||himself||Valentine Davies||Drama|
|1957||Mister Rock and Roll||himself||Charles S. Dubin||Drama/Musical|
|1978||No Maps on My Taps||himself||George T. Nierenberg||Documentary|
|1980||But Then She's Betty Carter||himself||Michelle Parkerson||Documentary|
Lionel Hampton, whose flamboyant mastery of the vibraphone made him one of the leading figures of the swing era, died yesterday morning at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 94. ...