Let the Good Times Roll

The Story of Louis Jordan and His Music
John Chilton
The first biography of the father of rhythm and blues


Louis Jordan (1908-75) is the acknowledged father of rhythm and blues, the jazz saxophonist and vocalist whose inventiveness acted as a bridge between jazz and rhythm and blues, paving the way for Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, James Brown, and countless others.

By combining the music of his rural African-American heritage with the sophisticated sounds of nightclub bands, Jordan produced a unique style. His inspired vocals, blending the humor and pathos of his upbringing, soon won him a huge following. Jordan and his Tympany Five made a string of bestselling records that included "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby," "Caldonia," and "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie." Posthumously, Jordan's name has reached a new audience via the Broadway show Five Guys Named Moe.

John Chilton is the author of several books on jazz, including the Who's Who of Jazz.

Praise / Awards

  • "John Chilton has, once again, given us an exemplary biography of a jazzman. . . . [A] fascinating read. . . . "
    Jazz Times

  • "The Song of the Hawk is a tune worthy of its soaring subject. . . . "

  • "The author's painstaking attention to every detail of Jordan's story, including his numerous failed marriages, and his careful analysis of his many recordings will appeal to jazz aficionados."
    Publishers Weekly

  • ". . . Chilton tells fascinating stories of the swinging 'battles' between big bands and the struggles of touring in the South, still very segregated during Jordan's heyday. Here, as in his biographies of Coleman Hawkins and Sidney Bechet, Chilton demonstrates that he may be the most meticulous of jazz biographers."

  • "Singer-saxophonist Louis Jordan was the pivotal figure in the development of what would become known as rhythm and blues, and an important influence on such future stars as B. B. King, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and Bill Haley. . . . This biography, complete with a thoughtful analysis of all musician's numerous recordings, goes a long way toward restoring Jordan's rightful place among the major musical figures of the century."
    Express Books

  • Winner: Association for Recorded Sound Collections' 1992 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research, Recorded Jazz or Blues

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 320pp.
  • 35 photographs.
See Sales Restrictions

Sales Restrictions

Our edition is available in Canada, Philippines, Puerto Rico, United States, Virgin Islands (U.S.)


  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08478-4

Add to Cart
  • $34.95 U.S.