Al Hirt Biography

Al Hirt was an American Trumpeter. Read on to know more about Al Hirt’s profile, childhood, life and timeline in this biography.

Al Hirt

Quick Facts

Gender: Male
Birthday: 07 November 1922
Died: 27 April 1999
Nationality: American
Sun Sign: Scorpio

Al Hirt was a trumpeter who was fondly called 'Jumbo' and 'The Round Mound of Sound'. He had his own band and is best remembered for the recording ‘Java’ and the album ‘Honey in the Horn’. Hirt displayed his love for music at a very young age, especially his passion to play trumpets. His recordings and albums won him a several prestigious awards including the induction to the Louisiana Hall of Fame. He worked with many leading bands of his time and later formed a band of his own.

Early Life & Career

Alois Maxwell Hirt (Al Hirt) was born on November 7, 1922 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hirt received his first ever trumpet from his father at the age of six. Then by sixteen he was playing trumpet professionally with his friend and it during this time he was hired to perform at the local horse racing track.
Hirt went to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with Dr. Frank Simon in 1940 and was a part of some respectable Swing bands. His skills and knack for the instrument helped him reach the peak of his career when he signed with RCA Victor Records. ‘Honey In The Horn’ and ‘Cotton Candy’ were among the top 10 best seller for 1964 and achieved a hit single for his cover version of Allen Toussaint's tune ‘Java’ which won a Grammy Award later.
In addition he was approached to record the one of the themes for the 1960s TV show "The Green Hornet". He teamed up with famous composer Billy May for an album in 1962.
After a quite a number of pop hits, Hirt swing and country as well. In his long career he chose to play the Dixieland (a form of jazz) style the most, even though he was capable of much more. He was often regarded as “overqualified” for Dixieland. He took his last breath at his home in New Orleans on April 27, 1999.

Major Works

Beauty and the Beard
Cotton Candy
Here in my Heart
Honey in the Horn
Horn A Plenty
In A Blue Mood
In Love With You
Struttin' Down Royal Street
Sugar Lips
That Honey Horn Sound
Al Hirt was also seen in the following movies:
Rome Adventure (1962)
Fanfare For A Death Scene (1964)
Electric Showcase (1965)
What Am I Bid? (1967)
Number One (1969)
Sass and Brass: A Jazz Session (1988)
New Orleans Jazz Brunch (1990)
He also hosted his own television show "Fanfare", in 1965 and appeared on an episode of "Touched By An Angel" on CBS television.

Awards and Achievements

World's Top Trumpeter (15 different years) by Playboy magazine
Artist of the Year by the Music Operators of America
Grammy for the for the albums ‘Honey In The Horn’ and ‘Cotton Candy’
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Charlie "Bird" Parker Memorial Foundation


Al Hirt was succeeded by eight children, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Famous Associations

Al Hirt recorded the theme for the 1960’s famous show ‘The Green Hornet’ along with the renowned composer and arranger Billy May.

Personal Life

Al Hirt had eight children from his first wife Mary Patureau Hirt. Later in 1990 he married Beverly Estabrook Essel, a very old friend with whom he was associated for 40 years. When he was at the peak of his career, Al Hirt opened his own night club in the French Quarter where re gave regular performances. The club was run successfully until the 1980s.


1922: Al Hirt was born on the 7th of November in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1940: He went to Cincinnati, Ohio to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
1950: He was taken to play as the first trumpet and soloist in Horace Heidt's Orchestra
1962: He opened up a club on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
1964: His albums ‘Honey In The Horn’ and ‘Cotton Candy’ were the in the top 10 best sellers list.
1966: He was selected to record the theme for the 60s TV show "The Green Hornet", by well-known arranger and composer Billy May.
1987: He performed a solo version of ‘Ave Maria’ (a Catholic prayer) for Pope John Paul II's on his visit to New Orleans.
1990: Married Beverly Estabrook Essel, a very old friend, who became his second wife.
1999: Died on the 27th of April, at the age of 76.

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Al Hirt Biography

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Last Updated

June 17, 2019

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