Louis Prima, Jr.

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Louis Prima, Jr.
Born (1965-06-16) June 16, 1965 (age 48)
Origin Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Genres Jazz
Swing
Rock
Traditional pop
Occupations Singer, entertainer, trumpeter, bandleader
Instruments Vocals, trumpet, drums, piano
Years active 1986–present
Labels Warrior Records/UMD
Associated acts The Witnesses
Website Official website

Louis Prima, Jr. (born June 16, 1965) is a Las Vegas-based entertainer, singer, songwriter, and musician mentioned as the "Crown Prince" of Swing in a review on the iTunes Web site,[1] Louis Prima, Jr. bridges the gap between the swing and rock eras.

Early life[edit]

Born four days before Father’s Day 1965, Louis Prima Jr. is the youngest child and only son of musician and entertanier Louis Prima. His mother and Louis Sr.’s widow, Gia Maione, began performing with Sr. in 1962.

His mother taught Louis to play the drums at 5 years old; his father put him on stage at age 5, at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, when Sam Butera shouted those familiar words, “and now, the man who plays pretty for the people… Louis Prima!” Louis Jr., with trumpet in hand, walked onto the stage to a sea of laughter. Later that same night, Louis and his sister Lena floored the crowd with a rousing, “Prima-ized” version of the Three Dog Night hit “Joy to the World.” This would not be the only time that he would “trick” the fans, walking onstage in place of his father, nor would it be the his only time sharing the stage with his father and The Witnesses. Louis Jr. and Lena performed several songs over the years, including Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll” and “On Top of Spaghetti.”

Jr. grew up on the outskirts of Las Vegas, on his dad’s golf course, ‘Fairway to the Stars,’ and spent two weeks every summer at his grandparents’ in Toms River, New Jersey. Jr's grandfather, Tom Maione, owned the Red Top Bar on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights.

The early 70s saw the Vegas landscape changing, and Sr. took a residency in New Orleans, moving the family with him. It was there that Louis Jr. first learned to play the piano. His aunt (Louis Sr.’s sister) Sister Mary Ann taught piano, and Louis quickly caught on. The family moved into the home that Sr. built for his mother on Pretty Acres Golf Course in Covington, LA, but soon realized the house might need to be razed, due to a termite infestation. And the family promptly moved back to Las Vegas.

Shortly after his father died in August 1978, Jr. and family moved back to Las Vegas. When enrolling in junior high school, he chose band as an elective and told his mother he wanted to play the trumpet. He continued playing through high school, and cites his band directors Bruce Cullings and William “Mac” McMosley as major influences in his life. The high school bands were some of the top in the country, winning top honors in every competition. They competed in the Heavy Division of the Chaffey Jazz Festival, and they marched in the Fiesta Bowl and Sun Bowl.[2]

Musical career[edit]

After graduating from high school, Prima started college to enter the business world. He quickly landed a good job, with what he believed a future, and dropped out of College after only one semester. Within a year, he had found a solid band that was renamed Problem Child.

Problem Child became the top draw in the local Vegas scene and set attendance records in several venues in Hollywood. They opened for numerous national acts in every genre, from the melodic Winger to Savatage.

In 1995, Problem Child disbanded, and Louis shifted his musical focus to his other love, the music and style of his father. Enlisting the talents of his sister Lena, who had long since quit the Rock Game and established herself as a Las Vegas performer, Louis put together a band in his father’s mold. With the aid of Sr.’s keyboard player Bruce Zarka, Jr. assembled a band of some of the top musicians in Vegas. Jr. left the music world behind began a career in food and beverage management. He started a family and moved on with life, performing only casually with friends. “I have two of the most amazing children, Jacob and Anthony. They are the loves of my life and make me truly happy to my soul.”[3]

For several years Prima juggled the demands of a full-time job, part-time music career and raising his children. In 2010 at age 44, he quit his lucrative shirt-and-tie day job. At a stage of life when some performers are hanging up their instruments in favor of more secure employment, Prima, a divorced father of two, gambled on a full-time career bringing his dad's musical style to new generations. "I may be good at management," he said, "but that's not what I was supposed to be doing."[4]

Shortly after their breakout performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka Jazz Fest) came one of the highlights of this musical odyssey, and a proud moment in Jr.’s life. On July 25, 2010, the year Louis Sr. would have turned 100. Prima Jr., Spiegel and The Witnesses were present when his father posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Prima Jr. accepted the star on his father’s behalf, and then Prima Jr. and his band "shook the pavement"[5] as they performed a rousing homage to his father, that had the thousands of spectators and paparazzi dancing in the street, turning Hollywood and Vine into Mardi Gras.

On July 10, 2012 Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses released their recording debut RETURN OF THE WILDEST on Warrior Records/Universal Music Distribution to rave reviews. Commingling the punch and energy of his rock band heritage with his famous dad’s classic (and lesser known) material, rendering a very strong debut release.[6] Every track on Return of the Wildest!, snares listeners with an appealing mix of unbridled enthusiasm and self-control.[7] Thirty-four years after Prima Sr. passed away, his son has revitalized his legacy with a reimaging of his music. It will make you want to dance, jump, jive, and wail.[8]

Touring in support of RETURN OF THE WILDEST, 2012 saw the band make their National Television Debut on Access Hollywood Live.[9] Hosts Billy Bush and Kit Hoover had such a good time dancing along with the band that they were asked to return for the hit television show's Christmas special that had guest Henry Winkler jumping out of his seat to join in the mayhem.[10] Their worldwide tour continued through October of 2013, highlighted by their performance at the first ever BottleRock Napa Valley festival.[11] sharing the bill with the likes of Macklemore, Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Kings of Leon and more.

Currently Prima Jr is promoting their second offering from Warrior Records which the band recorded at Capitol Records in the same studio where his father and mother recorded. Moving the music forward as his father did, the band recorded original material, as well as a couple of surprises.

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

Articles[edit]

External links[edit]