Skip to main content

As a public health precaution, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14 until further notice. Please continue to check back frequently at or for updates. In the meantime, please explore our website, resource materials and online exhibitions. 

Lionel Hampton

Lionel Hampton
Usage Conditions Apply
Frederick J. Brown, 1945 - 2012
Lionel Hampton, 20 Apr 1908 - 31 Aug 2002
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 244.2 x 182.9 x 4.8cm (96 1/8 x 72 x 1 7/8")
Frame: 253.7 x 197.8 x 7cm (99 7/8 x 77 7/8 x 2 3/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on behalf of the People of New York
Restrictions & Rights
© 1997, Frederick J. Brown
Object number
Exhibition Label
Lionel Hampton began his musical career as a drummer until Louis Armstrong encouraged him to take up the vibraphone in the early 1930s. Hampton introduced that instrument to the jazz idiom and came to the attention of Benny Goodman in 1936. When Goodman formed the Benny Goodman Quartet, Hampton played "vibes" and went on to direct the group's recordings of such favorites as "Dinah" and "Exactly Like You." In 1940 Goodman disbanded the quartet, and Hampton struck out on his own, incorporating such musicians as Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones, and Charlie Parker into the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. Among the top bands in the country, the orchestra played all the popular clubs, as well as Carnegie Hall and Harlem's Apollo Theatre. Hampton's high-energy spontaneity was legendary: "We got no routine," he once said. "We just act the way the spirit moves us."
The artist; gift 1997 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
On View
NPG, South Gallery 322 Mezzanine
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Usage conditions apply