Louis Jordan (1908-1975) of Brinkley (Monroe County) is one of the most important pioneers in the formation of modern American popular song. During the 1940s, Jordan had more than 50 top ten hits on Billboard's R&B, Pop and Country charts.
During his career, Jordan recorded with many artists, including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald.
Jordan's popularity was so great, his songs added such catchphrases to American vernacular as "Ain't nobody here but us chickens," and "Open the door, Richard."
In addition to his incredible unmatched chart success, Jordan influenced those we consider influential today: Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Bo Diddley and James Brown ("He was everything!"), among countless others, list Louis Jordan as a defining influence.
He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and is also a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
To read Koch's entry on Louis Jordan in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, click here.
Louis Jordan Tribute
Stephen Koch founded and, for more than a decade, hosted the annual Louis Jordan Tribute concerts. The events honored the music and influence of the Brinkley-born R&B, rap and rock 'n' roll pioneer, as well as raising funds for a bust of Jordan in his Delta hometown. Artist John Deering sculpted the bronze bust, which can be seen at the Central Delta Depot Museum, 100 West Cypress Street, in downtown Brinkley (www.cddm.org).
Koch has written and reported extensively about Jordan and his influence and legacy for years. The Library of Congress, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Department of Arkansas Heritage and others have recognized the Louis Jordan Tribute concert events.
The year 2008 marked the centennial of Jordan's birth. The year saw Jordan featured on a U.S.P.S. "Black Cinema" postage stamp. Koch was featured in a Jordan documentary film by Kevin Clark called "Is You Is: A Louis Jordan Story," screened at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (www.hsdfi.org) among other festivals and screenings. Additionally, a musical play penned by Koch called "Jump! The Louis Jordan Story" premiered to a sold-out audience at Wildwood Park for the Arts (www.wildwoodpark.org) in July, Jordan's birth month, with Jordan's widow, Martha, attending as guest of honor.
More than six decades after his heyday, Jordan's songs continue to be heard on stage, in movies and on TV shows and commercials.
The Louis Jordan House
Louis Jordan's boyhood home is located on Main Street in his hometown of Brinkley (Monroe County, Arkansas). Jordan would stay here with his Aunt Lizzie Reid when Jordan's father, James, of Dardanelle -- also a musician -- was on the road. The home was photographed in 2008, the centennial of Louis Jordan's birth.
(Photo courtesy Zachariah McCannon)