Louis Prima’s band leader and saxophonist Sam Butera died Wednesday morning, June 3rd at 6 a.m. at his home in Las Vegas, he was 81 years old. He was born in New Orleans on Aug. 17, 1927 and led Prima’s backing band the Witnesses from 1954 until 1975 when Prima went into the coma that would eventually kill him. He was on all of the best Louis Prima & Keely Smith Capitol LP’s: The Wildest (here), The Call Of The Wildest, The Wildest Comes Home, The Wildest Show In Tahoe (here), etc.) I caught him at the Tropicana in Vegas as recently as 1997 and he was still great. He made lots of good solo records including Easy Rockin’ (Capitol), Bim Bam (Capitol), Little Liza Jane (Prima 1) She’s A Kookamonger (Dot) as well as singing lead on many songs on Prima’s LP’s like his killer reading of Richard Berry’s The Next Time (from The Call of The Wildest it can be heard here along with the best of Louis Prima’s Capitol sides). He also made several solo LP’s for Capitol including The Big Horn (here). He had retired from performing in 2004, so I was already missing him. With Sam’s death comes the end of an era, that of the great rock’n’roll Vegas lounge acts which included the Treniers, Freddie Bell & the Bell Boys, Bill Ward & the Dominos, and of course Lous Prima with Sam Butera & the Witnesses.
DAVID CARRADINE DEATH: AUTO-EROTIC ASPHYXIATION? Check out today’s Smoking Gun. Sounds like a better explanation than suicide, after all, why would he have wrapped the rope around his genitals?