Prima was the older brother of the singer Louis Prima, and began on piano before picking up trumpet. He played early in his life with Leon Roppolo, Ray Bauduc, Jack Teagarden, and Peck Kelley (1925–27). He co-led the Melody Masters with Sharkey Bonano in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but played less in the 1930s. He played in his brother's big band from 1940 to 1946 in New York City. After moving back to New Orleans, he led his own ensemble, and managed more than one nightclub, then retired in 1955 to take up a career in real estate.
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