THE WITNESSES: Louis Prima’s
Band of Champions !!!
“Including Prima, there are seven people, and all stars!” commented the legendary columnist Walter Winchell in his review of a Prima show. He was referring to the individual star power and the unique musical talents of each man in Louis Prima’s band, The Witnesses.
The working concept of the band itself was Louis’ own creation. He handpicked each musician from the crème-de-la-crème the world had to offer, and showcased their musical super powers in an explosion of Jazz, Swing, and Rock & Roll!
At the end of the Big Band Era, Louis Prima disbanded his famous orchestra, and assembled the small band he named The Witnesses. The group would be considered the best in the business by critics and audiences alike.
Prima visited his hometown of New Orleans in 1954, and his musician brother Leon introduced him to a young saxophone player named Sam Butera. Sam’s musical ability and stage presence so impressed Louis that he asked him to join his band on Christmas Eve that year. Butera remembers spending the holiday with his family, and leaving the Crescent City for Las Vegas on December 26th.
The addition of Butera to Louis’ show was an immediate crowd pleaser and the beginning of a magical musical alliance responsible for defining the Las Vegas Prima sound. Musical trends and band personnel would change often during the years of 1954 through 1975, yet Sam Butera remained Louis Prima’s ever constant sideman until the end of Louis’ career.
Comedian Danny Thomas said of Louis Prima and his Witnesses, “Man for man, pound for pound, it is the greatest musical organization in the world!”
Louis Prima was a master showman, and he imparted his entertainment wisdom to all of his band members. Louis brought out the very best in every musician, and with them, created a sound unsurpassed to this day. The music they made together continues to delight and inspire fans all over the world.
Tenor Saxophone/Clarinet / Vocals:
Sam Butera (1954-1975),
Alto Saxophone , Valve Trombone, Clarinet, Trumpet, Flute, Piccolo:
Morgan Thomas (1960-1974)
Jimmy "Little Red" Blount (1954-1957)
Lou Sino (1957-1966)
Tony Horowitz (1974-1975)
Jack Marshall (1954-1957),
Bobby Roberts (1957-1961),
Allan Seltzer (1961-1964),
Randy Marr (1966-1969)
Pete Ruggerio (1969)
Ronnie James (1970-1972),
Floyd Dakil (1969, 1972-1974)
Greg Moore (1974-1975).
Willie McCumber, Jr. (1954-1958),
Robert Carter (1958),
John Nagy (1959-1964),
Bobby Rosario (1964-1966)
Kenny Harkins (1966-1967)
Richard "Little Richie" Varola (1967-1972)
Bruce Zarka (1972-1974)
Terry Ryan (1974-1975)
Bobby Morris (1954-1958) (1959-1962),
Harvey Lang (1958),
Paul Ferrara (1958-1959)
Jimmy Vincent (1962-1974),
Joey Vespe (1974-1975)
Amado Rodrigues (1954-1958),
Tony Liuzza (1958-1959),
Rolando “Rolly Dee” DiIorio (1959-1974),
Seth Kimball (1974-1975).