Louis Thomas Jordan[a] (July 8, 1908 – February 4, 1975) was an American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as "The King of the Jukebox", he earned his highest profile towards the end of the swing era. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an "early influence" in 1987.
Jordan was born on July 8, 1908, in Brinkley, Arkansas. His father, James Aaron Jordan, was a music teacher and bandleader for the Brinkley Brass Band and the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. His mother, Adell, died when Louis was young. He was raised by his grandmother Maggie Jordan and his aunt Lizzie Reid. At an early age he studied clarinet and saxophone with his father. In his teens he was a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and was playing professionally in the late 1920s. In the early 1930s he played in Philadelphia and New York City with Charlie Gaines. He recorded with Clarence Williams and briefly was a member of the Stuff Smith orchestra. With the Chick Webb orchestra he sang and played alto saxophone. In 1938 he started a band that recorded a year later as the Tympany Five.
Jordan was married five times. His first wife Julia (also called Julie) was from Arkadelphia. Soon after their wedding Julia gave birth to a daughter, Patty, who turned out to be another man's child. In 1932, Jordan met Ida Fields, a Texas-born singer and dancer, in Hot Springs. They married that year. Ida was six years his senior and a member of a traveling dance troupe called the Florida Orange Blossoms. Ida sued Jordan for bigamy in 1943. He claimed she was aware that he was still married. Ida was awarded a $70,000 judgement, later reduced to $30,000. She began billing herself as "Mrs. Louis Jordan, Queen of the Blues, and her Orchestra" before Jordan stopped it by stalling payments. In another court case, Ida was awarded a settlement of $50,000. In 1942, Jordan married his childhood sweetheart, Fleecie Moore; they were later divorced. In 1947, Fleecie discovered Jordan was having an affair with dancer Florence "Vicky" Hayes and attacked him with a knife. She was arrested and charged with assault. Jordan married Vicky on November 14, 1951, in Providence, Rhode Island; they separated in 1960. He married Martha Weaver, a singer and dancer from St. Louis, in 1966.
In 1961, the Internal Revenue Service filed an income tax lien against Jordan. As a result, he sold property well below their worth to pay off debts. Musician Ike Turner stated in his autobiography, Takin' Back My Name, that he heard about his tax problems and contacted Jordan's booking agency in Chicago. Turner convinced the president of the company to send Jordan a check for $20,000. Jordan was unaware of this deed.