Louis Jordan

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Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan, New York, ca. July 1946
Louis Jordan, New York, ca. July 1946
Background information
Birth nameLouis Thomas Jordan
Also known asThe King of the Jukebox
Born(1908-07-08)July 8, 1908
Brinkley, Arkansas,
DiedFebruary 4, 1975(1975-02-04) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California
GenresJump blues, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Big band, Comedy music
InstrumentsAlto saxophone, saxophone, piano, clarinet
Years active1920s -1990s
LabelsDecca, Mercury

Louis Jordan (*July 8, 1908 in Brinkley,Arkansas; † February 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, California) was an American jazz,blues and rhythm & blues musician, songwriter and bandleader. He was most successful in the 1940s in the black music market but he reached also white audiences and recorded several cross over hits in the Pop charts.

Life[change | change source]

Louis Jordan 1946

Louis Jordan was born in Brinkley,Arkansas. His mother, Addie, died in his younger years. His father, James Aron Jordan, was a music teacher and bandleader for the Brinkley Brass Band. From him he got his musical education. He started with the clarinet but also played piano very well.But the alto saxophon became his main instrument. He started his professionel career in the bands of his father.

He went north to Philadelphia and later to New York, where he started in 1932 with the band of Clarence Williams. In late 1936 he was invited to join the important Savoy Ballroom orchestra led by drummer Chick Webb.Webb was an excellent musician but no great showman, so Jordan took over the announcements when he started singing for the band. Later the young Ella Fitzgerald joined Webbs band and she often sang duets with Jordan. The following years she recorded some hit singles with Jordan.

1938 Jordan was fired by Webb and he began to form an own band which made her first recordings for Decca in December 1938. The original lineup of the sextet was Jordan (saxes, vocals), Courtney Williams (trumpet), Lem Johnson (tenor sax), Clarence Johnson (piano), Charlie Drayton (bass) and Walter Martin (drums). The Decca recordings were from "The Elks Rendezvous Band" but Jordan changed the name to "Tympany Five" after the brand of Martins drums. The most successful time of the band was between 1942 and 1950. In this period they had 18 #1-hits in the Rhythm and Blues chart of Billboard magazine. Some of the hits like Caldonia, Let the good times roll, Saturday Night Fish Fry or Choo Choo Ch'Boogie are evergreens. Under his duet partners were Bing Crosby,Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

In the 1950s his singles did not sell very well so he left Decca. He signed with different other record companies but was not as successful as in the 1940s. He died in 1975 in Los Angeles and is buried in St. Louis, Missouri.

Legacy[change | change source]

Caldonia- Louis Jordan.jpg

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #59 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[1] He was introduced to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. There he is described as “the Father of Rhythm & Blues” and “the Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”[2] As jump blues artist he paved the way for Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, Tiny Bradshaw and others. In his music one can hear the prototype of Rock and Roll. He influenced Bill Haley & His Comets, whose producer, Milt Gabler, had also worked with Jordan. The Broadway show, Five Guys Named Moe, was devoted to Jordan's music and this title is given to both soundtrack (tribute) and original music collections. The show was played over 400 times on Broadway. Blues Guitarist B. B. King recorded an album called Let The Good Times Roll-The Music of Louis Jordan, as well as the songs "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Caldonia". Rock singer Joe Jackson recorded Jumpin' Jive in 1981 which featured several songs by Jordan. Let The Good Times Roll, a Jordan biography, was written by British jazz historian John Chilton.

Albums[change | change source]

The music of Louis Jordan is still available in many different collections. To learn more about his music one can buy Bear Familys nine-CD collection of Jordan's work (Let the Good Times Roll: the Complete Decca Recordings 1938-1954). Another collection is Proper Records low priced four-CD, 102-track compilation (Jivin' With Jordan) that includes all of Jordan's important songs from his Decca years.

Hit singles[change | change source]

Title Chart positions Additional notes
US R&B/Race Charts US Charts US Country
1942 "I'm Gonna Leave You on the Outskirts of Town" 3
1942 "What's the Use of Getting Sober (When You Gonna Get Drunk Again)" 1
1943 "The Chicks I Pick Are Slender and Tender and Tall" 10
1943 "Five Guys Named Moe" 3
1943 "That'll Just 'Bout Knock Me Out" 8
1943 "Ration Blues" 1 11 1 First "crossover" hit
1944 "Deacon Jones" 7
1944 "G.I. Jive" 1 1
1944 "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" 3 2 1
1945 "Mop! Mop!" 1
1945 "You Can't Get That No More" 2 11
1945 "Caldonia" 1 6 Retitled "Caldonia Boogie" for national chart
1945 "Somebody Done Changed the Lock on My Door" 3
1945 "My Baby Said Yes" 14 Duet with Bing Crosby
1946 "Buzz Me" 1 9
1946 "Don't Worry 'Bout That Mule" 1
1946 "Salt Pork, West Virginia" 2
1946 "Reconversion Blues" 2
1946 "Beware (Brother, Beware)" 2 20
1946 "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" 3
1946 "Stone Cold Dead in the Market (He Had It Coming)" 1 7 Duet with Ella Fitzgerald
1946 "Petootie Pie" 3 Duet with Ella Fitzgerald
1946 "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" 1 7
1946 "That Chick's Too Young to Fry" 3
1946 "Ain't That Just Like a Woman (They'll Do It Every Time)" 1 17
1946 "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" 1 6
1946 "Let The Good Times Roll" 2
1947 "Texas and Pacific" 1 20
1947 "I Like 'Em Fat Like That" 5
1947 "Open the Door, Richard!" 2 6
1947 "Jack, You're Dead" 1 21
1947 "I Know What You're Puttin' Down" 3
1947 "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate" 1 21
1947 "Early in the Mornin'" 3
1947 "Look Out" 5
1948 "Barnyard Boogie" 2
1948 "How Long Must I Wait for You" 9
1948 "Reet, Petite and Gone" 4
1948 "Run Joe" 1 23
1948 "All for the Love of Lil" 13
1948 "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" 14
1948 "Don't Burn the Candle at Both Ends" 4
1948 "We Can't Agree" 14
1948 "Daddy-O" 7 Duet with Martha Davis
1948 "Pettin' and Pokin'" 5
1949 "Roamin' Blues" 10
1949 "You Broke Your Promise" 3
1949 "Cole Slaw (Sorghum Switch)" 7
1949 "Every Man to His Own Profession" 10
1949 "Baby, It's Cold Outside" 6 9 Duet with Ella Fitzgerald
1949 "Beans and Corn Bread" 1
1949 "Saturday Night Fish Fry (Pts. 1 & 2)" 1 21
1950 "School Days" 5
1950 "Blue Light Boogie (Pts. 1 & 2)" 1
1950 "I'll Never Be Free" 7 Duet with Ella Fitzgerald
1950 "Tamburitza Boogie" 10
1951 "Lemonade" 5
1951 "Tear Drops from My Eyes" 4
1951 "Weak Minded Blues" 5

Reading[change | change source]

  • John Chilton: Let The Good Times Roll - The Story of Louis Jordan & His Music. The University of Michigan Press, 1994

References[change | change source]

  1. "Music News – Rolling Stone".
  2. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/louis-jordan

Other websites[change | change source]