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From The Voice of America







Voice of America News obituary
Les Tomkins interview
Billboard tribute
University of Idaho tribute
Steve Voce in The Independent
Ron Simmonds - Lionel and me

Lionel Hampton, the American vibraphone artist who was a star of the world of jazz for six decades, has died at the age of 94. Hampton is reported to have died of heart failure Saturday at a hospital in New York City.

Hampton worked with jazz stars such as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. He performed throughout the world, taking his bands on goodwill tours of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Hampton was trained first as a drummer, but began playing the vibraphone (or vibraharp), an amplified xylophone, in the late 1920's. Hampton and pianist Teddy Wilson joined Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa in a legendary jazz quartet in 1936, famous both for their music and for breaking racial barriers that had kept black musicians such as Hampton and Wilson from playing with whites in public.

In 1996, Hampton was awarded the National Medal of Arts by then-President Bill Clinton, who honored him as a pioneering jazz artist, "a legendary bandleader [and] singer and the first musician to make the vibraphone sing and swing." Barely two days before he received the medal in Washington, Hampton, then 88, had narrowly escaped death in a fire that consumed his apartment in New York and destroyed all his possessions. Lionel Hampton, a jazz ambassador to the world, dead at the age of 94
Doug Levine.

Courtesy of Voice of America