In 1936, on their way to New York for Lionel to join Benny Goodman’s band, Lionel Hampton and Gladys Riddle were married. An accomplished seamstress, Gladys gave up her profession to help Lionel build his career. While Lionel played music, Gladys ran the business. Managing Lionel and the band, negotiating contracts, and booking shows, Gladys made a name for herself.
A wonderful pair, together they established their own record label, Glad-Hamp, as well as their own music publishing company, Swing and Tempo. With Lionel’s musical talent and Gladys’ business acumen, the Hampton’s were able to thrive.
Gladys and Lionel also loved helping their own community. One of their projects was the building of the the low-income housing units, the Lionel Hampton Houses, which were begun in 1971. Gladys died in 1971, and ten years later, Lionel opened more low-income housing units in New York named the Gladys Hampton Houses. On the cornerstone, Lionel had inscribed, “God gave me talent, but Gladys gave the inspiration.”
Photograph courtesy of the Lionel Hampton Library Collection