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Hampton, Lionel 1908(?)–2002

Lionel Hampton 1908(?)2002

Jazz vibraphonist, bandleader

Learned to Play Drums Front Nun

Joined Benny Goodman Quartet

Fostered Careers of Young Jazz Players

Continued to Perform After Strokes

Selected works

Sources

Leader of the most durable and perhaps best-loved of all the big bands, Lionel Hampton was a contributor to one of swing musics peak experiencesthe heyday of the Benny Goodman Quartet in the late 1930sand, until his death in 2002, remained a consummate entertainer and infectiously enthusiastic jazz ambassador. Hampton played an unusual instrument, the vibraphone, but with Goodman and later with his own big band he helped to define a jazz mainstream that endured for decades.

Learned to Play Drums Front Nun

Hampton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 20, 1908. (There is confusion about both the day and year of his birth; the date given here accords with Hamptons autobiography, Hamp. ) His father was declared missing in action in World War I but survived to meet his son years later in a VA Hospital in Dayton, Ohio; his mother moved the family to Birmingham, Alabama, and then north to Chicago. An energetic child with an obstreperous flair for percussion, Hampton was sent to a Catholic school, the Holy Rosary Academy in Collins, Wisconsin, near Kenosha. One of the Dominican nuns there, Sister Petra, was also a drum virtuosa. Hampton recalled in his autobiography, She taught me the 26 rudiments on drumsdrums have a scale just like the horn. She taught me the flammercue and Mama-Daddy and all that stuff on the drums.

After Holy Rosary folded for lack of funds, Hampton returned to Chicago and enrolled at St. Monicas School. He took a job delivering the Chicago Defender so he could play in the jazz band organized by the papers newsboys, and studied classical music under the bands director, Major N. Clark Smith. Hampton was given a marimba as a gift by his uncle, Richard Morgan, a musically savvy bootlegger with ties to Al Capone. The marimba might have made possible Hamptons later facility with the vibraphone, but at this time he had his sights set on becoming a drummer.

Hampton headed for Los Angeles, where he played drums and made recordings with various bands, and, at the urging of his manager (and later his wife) Gladys Riddle, enrolled in extension courses at the University of Southern California, where he could finish high school and study music theory. Recording with Louis Armstrong in 1930, he discovered a vibraphone in the studio and quickly mastered the instrument (his wife may have given him a set of vibes somewhat earlier); the solo that resulted on Memories of You was the first jazz vibraphone solo.

Joined Benny Goodman Quartet

By 1936 Hampton was a resident bandleader at the Paradise Café in Los Angeles. One August night, Benny Goodman, the unparalleled king of the jazz world at that time, walked in and joined Hampton on-stage and then invited him to join a quartet that the bandleader was forming. The immensely successful and influential Benny Goodman Quartet made its first recordings on April 19, 1936; Hampton was so excited by the prospect that he could fall asleep only at seven

At a Glance

Born on April 20, 1908 (some sources give 1909 or later), in Louisville, KY; died on August 31, 2002, in Manhattan, NY; son of Charles Hampton and Gertrude Morgan Hampton; married Gladys Riddle, November 11, 1936 (died 1971). Education: Took extension courses to finish high school and study music theory at University of Southern California.

Career: Vibraphonist, 1920s-2002; Paradise Café, bandleader, 1930s; Benny Goodman Quartet member, 193640; Hamptons Big Band, bandleader and vibraphonist, 1940-mid-1960s; touring performer, mid-196OS-2002.

Awards: Papal Medal, presented by Pope Paul VI, 1968; Medal of the City of Paris, France, 1985; Lifetime Achievement Award, Ebony, 1989; Kennedy Center lifetime Achievement Award, 1992; National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton, 1997; has also received honors from Presidents Truman to George H.W. Bush.

that morning and had to be awakened as the 11 a.m. recording time slipped by. Hampton had been recommended to Goodman by jazz entrepreneur and talent-spotter John Hammond, who would have realized that he was proposing something almost unprecedented at the timean integrated jazz band.

Hampton and his wife drove across the country to join Goodman and his orchestra in New York. At first, Hampton and black pianist Teddy Wilson were relegated to intermission slots, but recordings by the quartet (Hampton, drummer Gene Krupa, Wilson on piano, and Goodman on clarinet) sold well, and bit by bit the color barrier came down. I think we opened the door for interracial baseball in a way, Hampton claimed in a 1994 essay he penned for Entertainment Weekly. I think the public acceptance of our mixed band trickled out and helped let blacks like Jackie Robinson play for the white Dodgers.

RCA gave him carte blanche to organize his own recording dates during this period, and in 1940, with Goodmans blessing, Hampton decided to assert his independence and start his own big band. This band, initially comprised of unknowns, thrived on showmanship and rhythmic drive. Its biggest hit was 1942s Flying Home, which the writers of Jazz: The Essential Companion described in this way: [It] clearly established his formula: high energy, screaming brass, rhythmic trademarks which could drive an audience to fever pitch. In addition to Flying Home, other Hampton tunes such as Down Home Jump and Hey Ba-ba-rebop were based on distinct rhythmic figures that could inspire strong audience reaction.

Fostered Careers of Young Jazz Players

Jazz players who passed through Hamptons band on their way to stardom included Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Joe Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, Lee Young, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, and Dinah Washington. Hampton had a reputation as a disciplinarian, acting as a counterweight to some of the drug-fueled excesses that took hold in the jazz scene after the war. The band was known for continuing individual numbers until each soloist had improvised to the point of exhaustion; Hampton on occasion would also entertain audiences by playing the piano using only two fingers in the manner of vibraphone mallets. They used to criticize my band and say, Here comes the circus. And now all of them do it. As soon as they start singing, theyre walking around the stage, theyre sitting on the steps, theyre singing out in the audience. And all that jive came from us, Hampton recalled in a 1995 conversation with percussionist Tito Puente published in Down Beat.

Hampton was known among many for his association with the institution of the goodwill tour, a venture intended to introduce jazz, and the best of things American generally, to audiences abroad. A longtime fixture at Republican Party political conventions, Hampton met with great success and veneration during his later years. Although he maintained his big band longer than most other bandleaders, by the mid-1960s it had often given way to a smaller group known as The Inner Circle. Always guided by his wife and longtime business manager, Hampton established his own record label, Glad-Hamp, which notched an impressive track record of identifying and promoting young jazz talent.

Hampton was also an active participant in politics. The lifelong Republican actively campaigned for such politicians as Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. In 1964, however, he crossed party lines to support Democratic presidential candidate Lyndon B. Johnson. I may be a Republican, but Im first an American, Hampton explained in his autobiography, and I though what President Johnson was doing was good for the country. Johnson had signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and said, We shall overcome, and he was the man I wanted to support.

Continued to Perform After Strokes

In 1995 Hampton suffered two mild strokes within months of each other. He recovered well, but needed to use a wheelchair or a cane to get around. This did not stop him from performing regularly, however. Down Beat observed of Hampton, playing at the 32nd Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho, in 1999, Although a stroke has taken away some of Hamps playing ability, the 89-year-old vibrist is the strongest presence at the festival. Hamps indelible charisma transformed this tiny town of 18,000 into the center of the jazz universe.

In January of 1997 a halogen lamp tipped over in Hamptons Manhattan apartment, igniting a fire that destroyed his vintage record collection, his musical instruments, and his collected correspondence, among other valued personal items. Rescued by two attendants working in his apartment at the time, Hampton was uninjured.

Just weeks later, in Washington, D.C., Hampton was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. Were glad to see Lionel Hampton here safe and sound, Clinton was quoted as saying in Jet. The former president also referred to Hampton as, according to Jet, a lion of American music, and he still makes the vibraphone sing.

The king of the jazz jungle died on August 31, 2002, after suffering a heart attack. Although Hampton would no longer make the vibraphone sing, plans were underway in 2003 for a special memorial. The University of Idaho in Moscow envisioned a multipurpose campus facility which would include a performance hall, a home for the universitys International Jazz Collections, and expanded School of Music facilities. Set to open in 2007, the Lionel Hampton Center would also host the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

Selected works

Discography

Just Jazz, MCA, 1947.

Reunion at Newport, RCA, 1967.

Live at the Metropole Café, Hindsight, 1989.

Im in the Mood for Swing, Living Era, 1992.

Flyin Home and Other Showstopping Favorites, CEMA, 1992.

The Complete Lionel Hampton, vols. 1 and 2, RCA, 1993.

Midnight Sun (194647), Decca Jazz, 1993.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1996.

Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings, Decca Jazz, 1996.

Writings

(With James Haskins) Hamp: An Autobiography, Warner, 1989.

Other

Also recorded frequently with the Benny Goodman Quartet for RCA, 193640; reissues are available.

Sources

Books

Carr, Ian, Digby Fairweather, and Brian Priestley, Jazz: The Essential Companion, Prentice Hall, 1987.

Case, Brian, and Stan Britt, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz, Harmony, 1978.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 6, Gale Research, 1994.

Hampton, Lionel, with James Haskins, Hamp: An Autobiography, Warner, 1989.

The New Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz, ed. Barry Kernfeld, Macmillan, 1988.

Notable Black American Men, Gale Research, 1998.

Simon, George T., and others, The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Southern, Eileen, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, Greenwood Press, 1982.

Periodicals

Down Beat, July 1994; November 1995; May 1999; May 2003.

Entertainment Weekly, July 29, 1994; September 13, 2002.

Jet, January 27, 1997.

New York Times Book Review, December 3, 1989.

Washington Post, January 4, 1990; January 10, 1997.

James M. Manheim and Jennifer M. York

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Lionel Hampton

Lionel Hampton

One of the best-known orchestra leaders of the Big Band Era, Lionel Hampton (born 1908) formed his own jazz group after first playing vibraphone with bands led by Benny Goodman and Les Hite. Hampton's band played a major role in the shaping of American jazz and was the launching pad for such stellar performers as Dinah Washington, Quincy Jones, and Charlie Parker.

Although there seems to be some question about his actual birthdate, Hampton wrote in his autobiography, Hamp, that he was born on April 20, 1908. The son of Charles Edward and Gertrude Morgan Hampton, he was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Not long after his birth, his mother moved the family to Birmingham, Alabama, and later to Chicago. His father joined the U.S. Army shortly after the United States entered World War I and was declared missing only weeks after he was sent to France. He survived the war, however, and was reunited with his son two decades later in a Veterans Administration hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Musical Talent Surfaced Early

While still quite young, Hampton showed a talent for music, with a particular leaning towards percussion instruments. When his mother could no longer tolerate his incessant drumming on whatever household object was handy, she invested in a set of drums for her son. In no time, he had worn it out and was ready for a new one. For awhile Hampton attended Holy Rosary Academy in Collins, Wisconsin, not far from Kenosha, where he was tutored on the drums by Sister Petra, one of the academy's Dominican nuns. Years later, in his autobiography, Hampton wrote of that experience: "She taught me the 26 rudiments on drums—drums have a scale just like the horn. She taught me the flammercue and 'Mama-Daddy,' and all that stuff on the drums." During his high school years in Chicago, Hampton worked as a news carrier for the Chicago Defender, mostly so that he could join the newsboys' jazz band as drummer. The jazz band's director was Major N. Clark Smith, who Hampton later praised in his autobiography as "about the greatest musician I guess I have ever known." Smith was a mentor for Hampton, schooling him in the basics of music theory, harmony, and sight-reading.

Hampton's maternal uncle, Richard Morgan, was an avid jazz fan and friendly with a number of the leading jazz musicians of the period, many of whom attended parties at Morgan's home in Chicago. This gave young Hampton an opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Bix Biederbecke, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, and Jelly Rose Morton. During his final years in high school, Hampton began playing drums in the band of Les Hite. Hite later relocated to Los Angeles and after he'd been on the West Coast for a year or so invited Hampton to come west and rejoin the band. Convincing his mother that he'd finish high school in California, Hampton headed west. For the next four years, he played drums with the Hite organization, earning a reputation as one of the best drummers on the West Coast.

Discovered Vibraphone

It was a recording session with Louis Armstrong in the fall of 1930 that first brought Hampton together with the instrument that would earn him his greatest fame. During a break in recording, Hampton noticed a vibraphone sitting in the corner. He had played the xylophone while he was a member of the newsboys' band in Chicago but had never tried his hand on the vibraphone. Writing about the incident in his autobiography, Hampton wrote: "So Louis asked me, did I know anything about the instrument, and I said, 'Sure.' I had never played the vibes before in my life, but I picked it up and played Louis' solo from his record 'Chinese Chop Suey' note for note." So impressed was Armstrong that he insisted Hampton play the vibes on a recording of Eubie Blake's "Memories of You," marking the first time the instrument had been used on a jazz recording.

Hampton's first encounter with the vibraphone marked a turning point in his career. Although he continued to play the drums, over the next couple of years he devoted progressively more of his time to the vibes until he was concentrating almost exclusively on the new instrument. In 1936, Hampton was invited by Benny Goodman to join a jazz quartet he was forming as a complement to his big band. Other members of the quartet included Teddy Wilson on piano and Gene Krupa on drums. Joining the Goodman quartet gave Hampton national exposure. It also marked the first time that a well-known band had been racially integrated. Recalling his years with Goodman, Hampton wrote in his autobiography: "With Benny, touring with two black musicians was a pioneering effort. Nobody had ever traveled with an integrated band before, and even though Teddy Wilson and I were only part of the Benny Goodman Quartet, not the whole orchestra, that was still too much for some white folks." Despite occasional racial hostility, the quartet was a smashing success. Among its more memorable hits were "Moonglow" and "Dinah," along with Hampton's own composition, "Flying Home." In addition to playing the vibes in the Goodman quartet, Hampton occasionally sat in on the drums or contributed a vocal. Shortly after joining Goodman's entourage, Hampton married his longtime business manager, Gladys Riddle.

Formed Own Band

After four years of touring with Goodman's quartet— exposure that helped make him one of the major figures of the swing era—Hampton struck out on his own in the summer of 1940. Wife Gladys served as manager for the new band, which was made up largely of young but talented musicians, most of who were unknown. Reflecting Hampton's boundless energy and innate sense of showmanship, the band soon became well known for its extended solos and bravura performances, with Hampton more often than not in the center of the spotlight. He displayed the full range of his musical talents, playing the piano, vibes, and drums.

Shortly after its formation, Hampton's band released a recording of Hampton's "Flying Home," which soon became an anthem of the swing era, helping to further establish Hampton as a star and also providing a platform for the rhythm and blues saxophone stylings of Illinois Jacquet. Music historians often credit the plaintive wail of Jacquet's sax and Hampton's jump-boogie records of the late 1940s with helping to lay the groundwork for contemporary rhythm and blues. Although music purists and critics have been disdainful of some of Hampton's antics, including playing the piano mallet-style with two fingers and dancing on the drums, his consummate skill as one of swing music's most innovative improvisers has never been in doubt.

Despite a fair amount of criticism from other jazz performers that Hampton and his band expended far too much energy grandstanding, audiences clearly loved the showmanship and flocked to Hampton concerts. Of the criticism from his fellow jazz musicians, Hampton later remarked in an interview for Downbeat: "They used to criticize my band and say, 'Here comes the circus.' And now all of them do it. As soon as they start singing, they're walking around the stage, they're sitting on the steps, they're singing out in the audience. And all that jive came from us."

Spawned Many Jazz Stars

The Hampton band spawned a number of the 20th century's most notable jazz stars, including Dinah Washington, Joe Williams, Dexter Gordon, Howard McGhee, Quincy Jones, Betty Carter, Clifford Brown, and Arnett Cobb. For the next 25 years Hampton and his band traveled the world, making a number of foreign goodwill tours to Africa, Australia, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. The band also was seen frequently on TV, helping to build the group's—and Hampton's—reputation and popularity. In 1957, Hampton led his band in a performance at London's Royal Festival Hall. Two decades later he played for President Jimmy Carter at the White House.

By the mid-1960s changing musical tastes made it financially unfeasible for Hampton to keep the band operating on a regular basis. But Hampton himself was far from through. He continued to lead small groups that he put together and occasionally reassembled the big band for appearances at jazz festivals and concerts. Through the 1970s and 1980s he continued to perform and record with some of America's best jazz performers, including Chick Corea, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Charlie Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, and Woody Herman.

Hampton has been widely honored through the years, having received 17 honorary degrees from universities all over the world. In 1968 Pope Paul VI awarded Hampton the Papal Medal. He has been given the keys to the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, and in 1985 he received the Medal of the City of Paris. Among his other honors have been the Ebony Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award of 1989, the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, and the 1996 National Medal of Arts, which was actually awarded in 1997.

Performed at White House

A lifelong Republican, Hampton campaigned actively for a number of GOP politicians through the years, including Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Perhaps as a reward for his political support, he's been invited frequently to perform at the White House. He did make one notable deviation from his straight-Republican allegiances in 1964, when he backed Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson. In his autobiography, Hampton explained his political shift in these words: "I may be a Republican, but I'm first of all an American, and I thought what President Johnson was doing was good for the country. So in 1964, when he ran for election as president, I jumped party lines to support him. I had nothing personally against Barry Goldwater—in fact, we were good friends—but Johnson had signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and said, 'We shall overcome,' and he was the man I wanted to support."

In 1995 Hampton suffered two mild strokes, only weeks apart. Although he recovered from the strokes, he was left dependent on a cane or wheelchair to get around. Perhaps even more devastating for Hampton was the January 7, 1997, fire at his New York City apartment, which destroyed almost all of his belongings, including his vast collection of vintage recordings, several musical instruments, and other invaluable memorabilia from his years in music.

In February 2001, a couple of months before his 93rd birthday, Hampton donated the vibraphone he'd been playing for the previous 15 years to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. At the ceremonies marking the formal handover of the instrument to the museum, Hampton was hailed as the "vibe president" of the United States by John Edward Hasse, the museum's curator of American music. Rep. John Conyers, a Democratic congressman from Michigan and a big jazz fan, recalled that when President Bill Clinton threw Hampton a birthday party in 1998, the vibraphonist managed to convince the chief executive to play a saxophone solo with Hampton's band. A few months later, at a 93rd birthday celebration in his New York apartment, Hampton told a reporter for Jet that the key to a long life is "the power of prayer and a strong belief in our Almighty God."

Books

Contemporary Black Biography, Gale Research, 1998.

Contemporary Musicians, Gale Research, 1991.

Notable Black American Men, Gale Research, 1998.

Periodicals

Jet, February 26, 2001; May 28, 2001.

Online

"Lionel Hampton: Biography," Down Beat, http://www.downbeat.com/sections/artists (November 6, 2001).

"Lionel Hampton: Biography & Early Life," Lionel Hampton's Home Page, http://www.duke.edu/~hlh2/ (November 6, 2001). □

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Hampton, Lionel

Lionel Hampton

Bandleader, percussionist, singer

For the Record

Selected writings

Selected discography

Sources

For more than 50 years jazz musician and bandleader Lionel Hampton has captivated world audiences with his rhythmic drive and exuberant showmanship. A pioneering jazz vibraphonist with the Les Hite and Benny Goodman orchestras in the 1930s, Hampton went on to form his own big band, one of the most popular and enduring large jazz ensembles of all time. Specializing in stirring his musicians and fans into a rhythmic frenzy, the bandleader is notorious for letting numbers go on and on until every soloist has improvised into exhaustion; once, in Harlems Apollo theater, his audiences enthusiastic stomping and jumping cracked the balcony and forced an evacuation.

The temporary base of jazz greats Quincy Jones, Charlie Parker, Fats Novarro, and Dinah Washington over the years, the Hampton band has played an important part in the history of jazz. It was one of the first jazz ensembles to use the electric bass guitar and organ. Yet, for all Hamptons significant contributions to music, the performer wantsaccording to George T. Simon in The Best of the Music Makers to be remembered most for spreading happiness and good will. Hampton cavorts about the stage like a neophyte trouper trying to impress his first paying customers, wrote Arnold Jay Smith in Down Beat, describing the showman in his fiftieth year of performing, at age sixty-nine.He is always smiling, enjoying his playing and that of others, expressing that pleasure by yeah-ing whenever the spirit moves him.

Hampton displayed his musical leanings as a child, forever thumping on the rungs of chairs or on his grandmothers pots and pans. Christmas gifts were usually a set of childrens drums, which seldom survived his enthusiasm for very long. Wanting to play real drums, Hampton got a job during high school as a newsboy for the Chicago Defender, and within a week realized his wish in the newsboys jazz band. After graduating from high school in 1928 he headed for Los Angeles to play in the orchestra of family friend Les Hite and remained there for the next four years, developing his skills and acquiring local celebrity as a jazz drummer.

Once, when jazz great Louis Armstrong fronted for Hites band in a recording session, Hampton discovered an unused vibraphone in the studio and mastered it within the hour; Armstrongs 1930 recording, Memories of You, features Hampton in the first jazz vibraphone solo ever recorded. The young musician was absolutely smitten with the versatility of his new percussion instrumentits ability to be both animated and lyrical. Other jazz performers had used the vibraphone before, but none had approached Hamptons invention and rhythmic mastery on an instrument useduntil

For the Record

Born Lionel Leo Hampton, April 20, 1909 (some sources say April 12, 1908, or 1913, or 1914), in Birmingham, AL, raised in Chicago, IL; son of Charles (a pianist and singer) and Gertrude (Whitfield) Hampton; married Gladys Riddle (a seamstress who became his business manager), November 11, 1936 (deceased, 1971). Education: Attended the University of Southern California, 1934. Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian Scientist.

Drummer in Chicago Defender newsboys jazz band during high school; drummer and vibraphonist in Les Hites band, Los Angeles, 1928-32; performed in own jazz group, Los Angeles, 1933-35; vibraphonist with the Benny Goodman Quartet and occasional performer in Goodmans full band, 1936-40; bandleader, vibraphonist, drummer, pianist, and singer for the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, 1940-65; leader and performer in jazz combo The Inner Circle, 1965. Has appeared in motion pictures, including The Benny Goodman Story, 1955; has appeared on radio and television; musical director of television station WOOK, Washington, D.C., 1962; founder of recording labels Glad-Hamp and Whos Who in Jazz, 1978.

Professor of music at Howard University, Washington, D.C., 1981. Has made numerous international goodwill tours; human rights commissioner of New York City, 1984-86; creator of Lionel Hampton Jazz Endowment Fund, 1984; United Nations ambassador of music, 1985.

Addresses: Record company Glad-Hamp, 1995 Broadway, New York, NY 10023.

that timedecoratively, like chimes.That watery deposit-bottle sound, redolent of vaudeville, somehow makes his rhythmic force more impressive, judged Kevin Whitehead, discussing Hamptons Hot Mallets recordings in Down Beat.

In 1936 the King of Swing, clarinetist Benny Goodman, heard Hampton performing on vibes and persuaded the percussionist to tour with him, pianist Teddy Wilson, and drummer Gene Krupa as the Benny Goodman Quartet. Much admired, the group became enormously successful with hits like Dinah and Moonglow. Hampton occasionally played drums and sang in Goodmans full band as well. Also recording with pickup bands of celebrated sidemen from other jazz ensemblesthe Victor recordings are now coveted collectors itemsHampton became one of the swing eras premiere figures, prompting him to form his own big band in 1940. Initially comprised of young, unknown, promising musicians from around the country, the Hampton orchestra reflected its leaders ebullient nature, with an emphasis on showmanship, energy, and excitement. Conducting, singing, and playing the vibes and the drums, Hampton also took to entertaining audiences on the piano with his unique trigger-finger style: forefingers only, like vibraphone mallets, ripping through single-note passages.

Starting with the 1941 hit Flying Home, Hampton and his orchestra dominated the big band field for the next two decades. When it became evidentduring the early sixtiesthat the days of the big bands were over, he pared down to The Inner Circle, a jazz combo of eight or so musicians, still assembling the big band for reunions and special occasions. Engaging in a number of goodwill tours since the 1950s, Hampton has brought the excitement of jazz to people around the globe; at home, he has worked hard to have Americas black musical heritage taught at colleges and universities, and for other social and political concerns.

While observers have noted a tendency in Hamptons groups to emphasize audience-pleasing and past achievements over invention and musicianship, most share the sentiments of Down Beat contributor John McDonough.He presides over an outstanding all-star band which is never called upon to do much more than huff and puff familiar riffs, allowed McDonough, reviewing a recording of the entertainers fiftieth anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall.But thats all Hamptons bands have ever had to do. And that, apparently, has been more than enough.

Selected writings

(With James Haskins) Hamp: An Autobiography, Warner Books, 1989.

Selected discography

Singles

Drum Stomp, RCA Victor, 1937.

Down Home Jump, Victor, 1938.

Hot Mallets, Victor, 1939.

Central Avenue Breakdown/Jack the Bellboy, Victor, 1940.

Flying Home, Decca, 1942.

Hamps Boogie Woogie, Decca, 1944.

Hey Ba-ba-rebop, Decca, 1945.

Air Mail Special, Decca, 1946.

Midnight Sun, Decca, 1947.

Real Crazy/I Only Have Eyes for You, Vogue, 1953.

Albums

Play Love Songs, Verve.

Travelin Band, Verve.

Gene Krupa-Lionel Hampton-Teddy Wilson with Red Callender, Verve.

The Hampton-Tatum-Rich Trio, Verve.

King of the Vibes, Verve.

Airmail Special, Verve.

Flying Home, Verve.

Swinging With Hamp, Verve.

Hamp, Verve.

Hamps Big Four, Verve.

Hamp and Getz, Verve.

Lionel Hampton and His Giants, Verve.

Here Come the Swingin Bands, Verve.

The Genius of Lionel Hampton, Verve.

Lionel Hampton 58, Verve.

Halleluja Hamp., Verve.

The High and the Mighty, Verve.

All-American Award Concert, Decca.

Crazy Rhythm, EmArcy.

Golden Vibes, Columbia.

Wailin at the Trianon, Columbia.

Lionel Hampton Swings in Paris, Contemporary.

Hamp in Paris, EmArcy.

Lional Hampton Swings, Perfect.

Open House, Camden.

Moonglow, Decca.

Jazz Flamenco, Victor.

Just Jazz All Stars, GNP.

Just Jazz, Decca.

Jivin the Vibes, Camden.

Jam Session in Paris, EmArcy/Harmony.

Apollo Hall Concert, 1954, Epic.

Newport Uproar, RCA.

At Newport 78, Timeless.

Ambassador at Large, Glad-Hamp.

Big Band Live, Glad-Hamp.

Chameleon, Glad-Hamp.

Made in Japan, Glad-Hamp.

Outrageous, Glad-Hamp.

Rarities, Glad-Hamp.

Sweatin with Hamp, MCA.

Midnight Blues, Glad-Hamp.

Composed King David Suite (a four-part jazz composition for symphony), 1953.

Sources

Books

Feather, Leonard, The New Edition of the Encyclopedia of Jazz, Horizon Press, 1960.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, edited by Barry Kernfeld, Macmillan, 1988.

Simon, George T., and others, The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Periodicals

Down Beat, August 10, 1978; April 1982; July 1985; April 1988; May 1990.

New York Times Book Review, December 3, 1989.

Nancy Pear

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Hampton, Lionel 1908(?)–

Lionel Hampton 1908(?)

Jazz vibraphonist, band leader

Played in Newsboys Jazz Band

Joined Benny Goodman Quartet

Fostered Careers of Young Jazz Players

Selected discography

Sources

Leader of the most durable and perhaps best-loved of all the big bands, Lionel Hampton was a contributor to one of swing musics peak experiencesthe heyday of the Benny Goodman Quartet in the late 1930sand has remained a consummate entertainer and infectiously enthusiastic jazz ambassador for his entire career. Hampton plays an unusual instrument, the vibraphone, but with Goodman and later with his own big band he helped to define a jazz mainstream that endured for decades.

Hampton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 20, 1908. (There is confusion about both the day and year of his birth; the date given here accords with Hamptons autobiography, Hamp.) His father was declared missing in action in World War I but survived to meet his son years later in a VA Hospital in Dayton; his mother moved the family to Birmingham, Alabama, and then north to Chicago. An energetic child with an obstreperous flair for percussion, Hampton was sent to a Catholic school, the Holy Rosary Academy in Collins, Wisconsin, near Kenosha. One of the Dominican nuns there, Sister Petra, was also a drum virtuosa, Hampton recalled in his autobiography. She taught me the 26 rudiments on drumsdrums have a scale just like the horn. She taught me the flammercue and Mama-Daddy and all that stuff on the drums.

Played in Newsboys Jazz Band

After Holy Rosary folded for lack of funds, Hampton returned to Chicago and enrolled at St. Monicas School. He took a job delivering the Chicago Defender so he could play in the jazz band organized by the papers newsboys, and studied classical music under the bands director, Major N. Clark Smith.

Hampton was given a marimba as a gift by his uncle, Richard Morgan, a musically savvy bootlegger with ties to Al Capone. The marimba might have made possible Hamptons later facility with the vibraphone, but at this time he had his sights set on becoming a drummer.

Hampton headed for Los Angeles, where he played drums and made recordings with various bands, and, at the urging of his manager (and later his wife) Gladys Riddle, enrolled in extension courses at the University of Southern California where he could finish high school

At a Glance

Born April 20, 1908 (some sources give 1909 or later), in Louisville, KY; son of Charles Hampton (later missing in action in World War I) and Certrude Morgan Hampton. Grew up in Chicago. Married Gladys Riddle. Education: Attended Holy Rosary Academy, Collins, Wisconsin, and St. Monicas School, Chicago; took extension courses to finish high school at USC

Career: Jazz vibraphonist and bandleader. Recorded first jazz vibraphone solo in session with Louis Armstrong, 1930; joined Benny Goodman Quartet, 1936; recorded widely with Goodman and with players of own choosing, 1936-1940; helped break down racial barriers in jazz, 1936-1940; established own big band, 1940; recorded hit Flying Home, 1942; developed high-energy stage presentation and intensely rhythmic musical structures; toured the world widely as goodwill ambassador.

Awards: Numerous jazz awards. Received National Medal of Arts from President Clinton, 1997; has also received honors from presidents from Truman to Bush.

Addresses: c/o Jazz One Productions, Inc., 44 Rio Vista Dr., Allendale, NJ 07401-1624.

and study music theory. Recording with Louis Armstrong in 1930, he discovered a vibraphone in the studio and quickly mastered the instrument (his wife may have given him a set of vibes somewhat earlier); the solo that resulted on Memories of You was the first jazz vibraphone solo.

Joined Benny Goodman Quartet

By 1936 Hampton was a resident bandleader at the Paradise Café in Los Angeles. One August night, Benny Goodman, the unparalleled king of the jazz world at that time, walked in and joined Hampton on-stage and then invited him to join a quartet that the bandleader was forming. The immensely successful and influential Benny Goodman Quartet made its first recordings on April 19, 1936; Hampton was so excited by the prospect that he could fall asleep only at seven that morning and had to be awakened as the 11 a.m. recording time slipped by. Hampton had been recommended to Goodman by jazz entrepreneur and talent-spotter John Hammond, who would have realized that he was proposing something at the time almost unprecedentedan integrated jazz band.

Hampton and his wife drove across the country to join Goodman and his orchestra in New York. At first, Hampton and black pianist Teddy Wilson were relegated to intermission slots, but recordings by the quartet (Hampton, drummer Gene Krupa, Wilson on piano, and Goodman on clarinet) sold well, and bit by bit the color barrier came down. I think we opened the door for interracial baseball in a way, Hampton claimed in a 1994 essay he penned for Entertainment Weekly. I think the public acceptance of our mixed band trickled out and helped let blacks like Jackie Robinson play for the white Dodgers.

RCA gave him carte blanche to organize his own recording dates during this period, and in 1940, with Goodmans blessing, Hampton decided to assert his independence and start his own big band. This band, initially comprised of unknowns, thrived on showmanship and rhythmic drive. Its biggest hit was 1942s Flying Home, which the writers of Jazz: The Essential Companion describe in this way: [It] clearly established his formula: high energy, screaming brass, rhythmic trademarks which could drive an audience to fever pitch In addition to Flying Home, other Hampton tunes such as Down Home Jump and Hey Ba-ba-rebop were based on distinct rhythmic figures that could inspire strong audience reaction.

Fostered Careers of Young Jazz Players

Jazz players who passed through Hamptons band on their way to stardom included Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Joe Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, Lee Young, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, and Dinah Washington. Hampton had a reputation as a disciplinarian, acting as a counterweight to some of the drug-fueled excesses that took hold in the jazz scene after the war. The band was known for continuing individual numbers until each soloist had improvised to the point of exhaustion; Hampton on occasion would also entertain audiences by playing the piano using only two fingers in the manner of vibraphone mallets. They used to criticize my band and say, Here comes the circus. And now all of them do it. As soon as they start singing, theyre walking around the stage, theyre sitting on the steps, theyre singing out in the audience. And all that jive came from us, Hampton recalled in a 1995 conversation with percussionist Tito Puente published in Down Beat.

Hampton was known among many for his association with the institute of the goodwill tour, a venture intended to introduce jazz, and the best of things American generally, to audiences abroad. A longtime fixture at Republican Party political conventions, Hampton met with great success and veneration during his later years. Although he maintained his big band longer than did most other bandleaders, by the middle 1960s it had often given way to a smaller group known as The Inner Circle. Always guided by his wife and longtime business manager, Hampton established his own record label, named Glad-Hamp, that notched an impressive track record of identifying and promoting young jazz talent. Hampton was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and although he lost priceless mementos of a lifetime when a fire destroyed his Manhattan apartment that year, his career is a collection of jazz memories probably unmatched.

Selected discography

The Complete Lionel Hampton, vols. 1 and 2, RCA, 1993.

Flyirí Home and Other Showstopping Favorites, CEMA 1992.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1996.

Hamp:The Legendary Decca Recordings, Decca Jazz, 1996.

Im in the Mood for Swing, Living Era, 1992.

Just Jazz, MCA, original release 1947.

Live at the Metropole Café, Hindsight, 1989.

Midnight Sun (1946-47), Decca Jazz, 1993.

Reunion at Newport, RCA, 1967.

Also recorded frequently with the Benny Goodman Quartet for RCA, 1936-1940; reissues are available.

Sources

Books

Case, Brian, and Stan Britt, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz, Harmony, 1978.

Simon, George T., and others, The Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Southern, Eileen, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, Greenwood Press, 1982.

Carr, Ian, Digby Fairweather, and Brian Priestley, Jazz: The EssentialCompanion, Prentice Hall, 1987.

The New Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz, ed. Barry Kernfeld, Macmillan, 1988.

Hampton, Lionel, with James Haskins, Hamp: An Autobiography, Warner, 1989.

Contemporary Musicians, volume 6, Gale Research, 1994.

Periodicals

Down Beat, July 1994; November 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, July 29, 1994.

Jet, January 27, 1997.

New York Times Book Review, December 3, 1989.

Washington Post, January 4, 1990; January 10, 1997.

James M. Manheim

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Hampton, Lionel

Lionel Hampton, 1908?–2002, African-American vibraphonist and bandleader, b. Louisville, Ky. When his family moved to Chicago c.1916, the young Hampton began playing drums in a newsboys' band. He moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and became a drummer in saxophonist Les Hite's band. Encouraged by Louis Armstrong, he soon learned the vibraphone and quickly became the instrument's leading jazz exponent, acclaimed early for his solos on Armstrong's 1930 recording of the now-classic "Memories of You." As a member of the Benny Goodman Quartet, Hampton toured from 1936 to 1940, when he formed a big band of his own. His ensemble included such luminaries as Clifford Brown, Betty Carter, and Quincy Jones in its ranks. Known for his harmonic and rhythmic sophistication and his dynamic showmanship, Hampton often moved from vibes to drums to two-fingered piano, leading his group not only in the performance of swing, but in bop and rhythm and blues as well. He toured internationally into the 1990s, frequently leading small jazz groups.

See his autobiography (1989).

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