US black jazz vibraphonist, drummer, pianist, singer, and bandleader. A highly extrovert performer, he was one of the best-loved American musicians for nearly fifty years.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he was brought up in Chicago and moved to California in 1927. He became a professional musician at sixteen, playing the drums on records and in films with the bands of Les Hite (1903–62) and Louis Armstrong. In 1930 he made his first record playing the vibraphone, but his real success came as the vibraphonist in Benny Goodman's quartet (1936–40). Besides recording with Goodman, Hampton made about a hundred small-group jazz records for Victor (1937–41), hiring the best people who happened to be available for each recording session and often using men from the bands of Goodman, Count Basie, or Duke Ellington. These classics were subsequently reissued.
From 1940 Hampton led his own big bands on tours all over the world. He appeared in many films, played himself in The Benny Goodman Story (1955), and was featured at President Carter's White House Jazz Party in 1978.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).