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Photo of Doc Tomato and band performing
Doc Tomato performs the Louis Jordan hit "Let the Good Times Roll" at the Louis Jordan Tribute, 1998

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Tribute to Louis Jordan
A Local Legacy

You might have heard of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, two well-known and popular musicians, but it's very possible that you've never heard of Louis Jordan, who was just as popular when he was alive.

Arkansas-born Louis Jordan (1908-1975) is considered the father of rhythm & blues, rock 'n' roll, and even rap. During the 1940s and 1950s he was one of the few African American musicians who had "crossover" appeal - that is he was popular with both black and white audiences. Jordan and his band, the Tympany Five, were one of the most popular recording acts in the country by 1942. As a result of his popularity, he starred in many Hollywood short films and received equal billing with performers like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. He was even rapping decades before modern-day rap was born.

Many of his songs are still popular. "Barnyard Boogie" is featured in the movie "Babe: Pig in the City." Other songs of his that you might recognize include "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and "Let the Good Times Roll." Louis Jordan is such an important figure in the history of rock and rap music that he is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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