At the height of his career, in the 1940s, bandleader and alto saxophonist Louis Jordan scored 18 Number One hit records. Jordan exhibited a brilliant sense of showmanship that brought audiences first-rate entertainment without any loss of musical integrity. He performed songs that appealed to millions of black and white listeners. Able to communicate between these two audiences, Jordan emerged as one of the first successful crossover artists of American popular music.
Born on July 8, 1908, in Brinkley, Arkansas, Jordan was the son of Jim Jordan, a bandleader and music teacher. Under the tutelage of his father, Jordan began studying clarinet at age seven, then saxophone. His first professional engagement was with Fat Chappelle's Rabbit Foot Minstrels, playing clarinet and dancing throughout the South. At Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Jordan majored in music. After school he played local dates with Jimmy Pryor's Imperial Serenaders.