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Louis Prima to be honored with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Event marks 100th birthday; part of Walk of Fame celebration

Posted: July 21, 2010 2:44 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2010 2:38 p.m.

Louis Prima Jr. will perform to commemorate his father's legacy this Sunday, July 25.

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Singer/trumpter/bandleader Louis Prima, best known as a jump-blues-swing master for songs such as "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Just a Gigolo" and "Jump, Jive, an' Wail," will be honored posthumously with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this Sunday, July 25.

Free and open to the public, the ceremony is part of Hollywood's 50th Anniversary "Walk the Walk" celebration, and commemorates what would have been the entertainer's 100th birthday. 

Prima's son, bandleader Louis Prima Jr., and daughter, Lena Prima, are slated to accept the star on their father's behalf.

The ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be followed by a concert by Louis Prima Jr. and his band, The Witnesses featuring vocalist Sarah Spiegel.

Set up directly in front of the Montalban Theatre on Vine Street, Prima Jr. will lead live performances of classics from his father's vast catalog, which includes "Jump, Jive, an' Wail," "Angelina," "Just a Gigolo," "That Old Black Magic," "Buona Sera," "When You're Smiling" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" -- the latter being the big band classic that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

The theater is across the street from the Capitol Records Tower; Prima Sr. was an artist on the label for six years.

"The band is more than just what you would expect to see somebody playing his music," said Prima Jr., now 45. "We really take it up a notch to try to continue his show because the live show is really what got him over. The music was fantastic, but seeing him live was something special." 

Louis Prima was predominantly a swing artist, but his music encompassed a variety of genres and sounds.

"The natural progression for me was to go into my father's music, which is the happiest music on earth," his son said. "It's music that makes your foot tap."

Born in New Orleans in 1911, Louis Prima was a major star on the Las Vegas circuit and around the world during the 1950s and '60s, usually with his equally talented wife, Keely Smith. He devoted a 50-year career to "putting on a show that made you smile and forget your troubles and that the rest of the world even existed, even if it was for that one-hour show," his son said. Prima Sr. died in his hometown in 1978.

"My father made a career out of not just writing his own music but taking songs that he enjoyed and twisting them into his own versions," Prima Jr. said. "That's kind of the direction I want to go with this band -- just to keep it a little more popular and also pay tribute to him as well.

"I've always said that happy music will transcend time," he said. "That's what my father brought to the world and that's what I'm hopefully continuing to bring to the world."

The Witnesses -- band lineup
* Louis Prima Jr.
* Sarah Spiegel (singer)
* Marco Palos (sax)
* Ted Schumacher (trumpet)
* Phil Clevinger (trombone)
* Joey Sykes (guitar)
* Gregg Fox (keys)
* Michael Gerbino (bass)
* Jimmy Prima (drums)

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