|Height:||168 cm (5' 7'')|
|Birth Day:||August 4, 1901|
|Death Date:||Jul 6, 1971 (age 69)|
|Birth Place:||New Orleans, United States|
|#2||Henry Armstrong||Brother||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||75||Boxer|
|#4||Alpha Smith||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#5||Daisy Parker||Former spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||29||Instagram Star|
|#6||Lil Hardin Armstrong||Former spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||121||Jazz Singer|
|#9||Beatrice Armstrong Collins||Sister||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Louis Armstrong died on Jul 6, 1971 (age 69).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|168 cm (5' 7'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
The grandson of slaves, he worked as a paperboy and sold food he salvaged to restaurants. Bunk Johnson taught him how to play by ear when Armstrong was eleven and had dropped out of school.
Borrowing his stepfather's gun without permission, he fired a blank into the air and was arrested on December 31, 1912. He spent the night at New Orleans Juvenile Court, then was sentenced the next day to detention at the Colored Waif's Home. Life at the home was spartan. Mattresses were absent; meals were often little more than bread and molasses. Captain Joseph Jones ran the home like a military camp and used corporal punishment.
On June 14, 1914, Armstrong was released into the custody of his father and his new stepmother, Gertrude. He lived in this household with two stepbrothers for several months. After Gertrude gave birth to a daughter, Armstrong's father never welcomed him, so he returned to his mother, Mary Albert. In her small home, he had to share a bed with his mother and sister. His mother still lived in The Battlefield, leaving him open to old temptations, but he sought work as a musician. He found a job at a dance hall owned by Henry Ponce, who had connections to organized crime. He met the six-foot tall drummer Black Benny, who became his guide and bodyguard. Around the age of fifteen, he pimped for a prostitute named Nootsy, but that relationship failed after she stabbed Armstrong in the shoulder and his mother nearly choked her to death.
Armstrong played in brass bands and riverboats in New Orleans, first on an excursion boat in September 1918. He traveled with the band of Fate Marable, which toured on the steamboat Sidney with the Streckfus Steamers line up and down the Mississippi River. Marable was proud of his musical knowledge, and he insisted that Armstrong and other musicians in his band learn sight reading. Armstrong described his time with Marable as "going to the University", since it gave him a wider experience working with written arrangements. He did return to New Orleans periodically. In 1919, Oliver decided to go north and resigned his position in Kid Ory's band; Armstrong replaced him. He also became second trumpet for the Tuxedo Brass Band.
Throughout his riverboat experience, Armstrong's musicianship began to mature and expand. At twenty, he could read music. He became one of the first jazz musicians to be featured on extended trumpet solos, injecting his own personality and style. He started singing in his performances. In 1922, he moved to Chicago at the invitation of King Oliver. With Oliver's Creole Jazz Band he could make enough money to quit his day jobs. Although race relations were poor, Chicago was booming. The city had jobs for blacks making good wages at factories with some left over for entertainment.
His first studio recordings were with Oliver for Gennett Records on April 5–6, 1923. They endured several hours on the train to remote Richmond, Indiana, and the band was paid little. The quality of the performances was affected by lack of rehearsal, crude recording equipment, bad acoustics, and a cramped studio. In addition, Richmond was associated with the Ku Klux Klan.
Armstrong was performing at the Brick House in Gretna, Louisiana, when he met Daisy Parker, a local prostitute. He started the affair as a client. He returned to Gretna on several occasions to visit her. He found the courage to look for her home to see her away from work. It was on this occasion that he found out that she had a common-law husband. Not long after this fiasco, Parker traveled to Armstrong's home on Perdido Street. They checked into Kid Green's hotel that evening. On the next day, March 19, 1919, Armstrong and Parker married at City Hall. They adopted a three-year-old boy, Clarence, whose mother, Armstrong's cousin Flora, had died soon after giving birth. Clarence Armstrong was mentally disabled as the result of a head injury at an early age, and Armstrong spent the rest of his life taking care of him. His marriage to Parker ended when they separated in 1923.
Armstrong and Oliver parted amicably in 1924. Shortly afterward, Armstrong received an invitation to go to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top African-American band of the time. He switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section. His influence on Henderson's tenor sax soloist, Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period.
On February 4, 1924, he married Lil Hardin Armstrong, King Oliver's pianist. She had divorced her first husband a few years earlier. His second wife helped him develop his career, but they separated in 1931 and divorced in 1938. Armstrong then married Alpha Smith. His relationship with Alpha, however, began while he was playing at the Vendome during the 1920s and continued long after. His marriage to his third wife lasted four years, and they divorced in 1942. Louis then married Lucille Wilson in October 1942, a singer at the Cotton Club, to whom he was married until his death in 1971.
In 1925, Armstrong returned to Chicago largely at the insistence of Lil, who wanted to expand his career and his income. In publicity, much to his chagrin, she billed him as "the World's Greatest Trumpet Player". For a time he was a member of the Lil Hardin Armstrong Band and working for his wife. He formed Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and recorded the hits "Potato Head Blues" and "Muggles". The word "muggles" was a slang term for marijuana, something he used often during his life.
The Hot Five included Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), Lil Armstrong on piano, and usually no drummer. Over a twelve-month period starting in November 1925, this quintet produced twenty-four records. Armstrong's band leading style was easygoing, as St. Cyr noted, "One felt so relaxed working with him, and he was very broad-minded ... always did his best to feature each individual." Among the most notable of the Hot Five and Seven records were "Cornet Chop Suey", "Struttin' With Some Barbecue", "Hotter Than that" and "Potato Head Blues," all featuring highly creative solos by Armstrong. According to Thomas Brothers, recordings, such as "Struttin' with Some Barbeque," were so superb, "planned with density and variety, bluesyness, and showiness," that they were probably showcased at the Sunset Café. His recordings soon after with pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines (most famously their 1928 "Weather Bird" duet) and Armstrong's trumpet introduction to and solo in "West End Blues" remain some of the most famous and influential improvisations in jazz history. Armstrong was now free to develop his personal style as he wished, which included a heavy dose of effervescent jive, such as "Whip That Thing, Miss Lil" and "Mr. Johnny Dodds, Aw, Do That Clarinet, Boy!"
Armstrong also played with Erskine Tate's Little Symphony, which played mostly at the Vendome Theatre. They furnished music for silent movies and live shows, including jazz versions of classical music, such as "Madame Butterfly", which gave Armstrong experience with longer forms of music and with hosting before a large audience. He began to scat sing (improvised vocal jazz using nonsensical words) and was among the first to record it, on the Hot Five recording "Heebie Jeebies" in 1926. The recording was so popular that the group became the most famous jazz band in the United States, even though they had not performed live to any great extent. Young musicians across the country, black or white, were turned on by Armstrong's new type of jazz.
Armstrong returned to New York in 1929, where he played in the pit orchestra for the musical Hot Chocolates, an all-black revue written by Andy Razaf and pianist Fats Waller. He also made a cameo appearance as a vocalist, regularly stealing the show with his rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'". His version of the song became his biggest selling record to date.
Armstrong moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to seek new opportunities. He played at the New Cotton Club in Los Angeles with Lionel Hampton on drums. The band drew the Hollywood crowd, which could still afford a lavish night life, while radio broadcasts from the club connected with younger audiences at home. Bing Crosby and many other celebrities were regulars at the club. In 1931, Armstrong appeared in his first movie, Ex-Flame and was also convicted of marijuana possession but received a suspended sentence. He returned to Chicago in late 1931 and played in bands more in the Guy Lombardo vein and he recorded more standards. When the mob insisted that he get out of town, Armstrong visited New Orleans, had a hero's welcome, and saw old friends. He sponsored a local baseball team known as Armstrong's Secret Nine and had a cigar named after him. But soon he was on the road again. After a tour across the country shadowed by the mob, he fled to Europe.
Armstrong was a heavy marijuana smoker for much of his life and spent nine days in jail in 1930 after being arrested for drug possession outside a club. He described marijuana as "a thousand times better than whiskey".
Armstrong started to work at Connie's Inn in Harlem, chief rival to the Cotton Club, a venue for elaborately staged floor shows, and a front for gangster Dutch Schultz. Armstrong also had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of famous songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael. His 1930s recordings took full advantage of the new RCA ribbon microphone, introduced in 1931, which imparted a characteristic warmth to vocals and immediately became an intrinsic part of the 'crooning' sound of artists like Bing Crosby. Armstrong's famous interpretation of Carmichael's "Stardust" became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded, showcasing Armstrong's unique vocal sound and style and his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.
The Great Depression of the early 1930s was especially hard on the jazz scene. The Cotton Club closed in 1936 after a long downward spiral, and many musicians stopped playing altogether as club dates evaporated. Bix Beiderbecke died and Fletcher Henderson's band broke up. King Oliver made a few records but otherwise struggled. Sidney Bechet became a tailor, later moving to Paris and Kid Ory returned to New Orleans and raised chickens.
After returning to the United States, he undertook several exhausting tours. His agent Johnny Collins's erratic behavior and his own spending ways left Armstrong short of cash. Breach of contract violations plagued him. He hired Joe Glaser as his new manager, a tough mob-connected wheeler-dealer, who began to straighten out his legal mess, his mob troubles, and his debts. Armstrong also began to experience problems with his fingers and lips, which were aggravated by his unorthodox playing style. As a result, he branched out, developing his vocal style and making his first theatrical appearances. He appeared in movies again, including Crosby's 1936 hit Pennies from Heaven. In 1937, Armstrong substituted for Rudy Vallee on the CBS radio network and became the first African American to host a sponsored, national broadcast.
After spending many years on the road, Armstrong settled permanently in Queens, New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille. Although subject to the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley and the gangster-ridden music business, as well as anti-black prejudice, he continued to develop his playing. He recorded Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair" for Okeh Records.
During the 1940s, a widespread revival of interest in the traditional jazz of the 1920s made it possible for Armstrong to consider a return to the small-group musical style of his youth. Armstrong was featured as a guest artist with Lionel Hampton's band at the famed second Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which was produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. on October 12, 1946. Following a highly successful small-group jazz concert at New York Town Hall on May 17, 1947, featuring Armstrong with trombonist/singer Jack Teagarden, Armstrong's manager, Joe Glaser dissolved the Armstrong big band on August 13, 1947, and established a six-piece traditional jazz group featuring Armstrong with (initially) Teagarden, Earl Hines and other top swing and Dixieland musicians, most of whom were previously leaders of big bands. The new group was announced at the opening of Billy Berg's Supper Club.
February 28, 1948, Suzy Delair sang the French song C'est si bon at the Hotel Negresco during the first Nice Jazz Festival. Louis Armstrong was present and loved the song. June 26, 1950, he recorded the American version of the song (English lyrics by Jerry Seelen) in New York City with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra. When it was released, the disc was a worldwide success and the song was then performed by the greatest international singers.
This group was called Louis Armstrong and His All Stars and included at various times Earl "Fatha" Hines, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Arvell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid "Buddy" Catlett, Cozy Cole, Tyree Glenn, Barrett Deems, Mort Herbert, Joe Darensbourg, Eddie Shu, Joe Muranyi and percussionist Danny Barcelona. During this period, Armstrong made many recordings and appeared in over thirty films. He was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine, on February 21, 1949. Louis Armstrong and his All Stars were featured at the ninth Cavalcade of Jazz concert also at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. held on June 7, 1953 along with Shorty Rogers, Roy Brown, Don Tosti and His Mexican Jazzmen, Earl Bostic, and Nat "King" Cole.
In a memoir written for Robert Goffin between 1943 and 1944, Armstrong states, "All white folks call me Louie," perhaps suggesting that he himself did not or, on the other hand, that no whites addressed him by one of his nicknames such as Pops. That said, Armstrong was registered as "Lewie" for the 1920 U.S. Census. On various live records he's called "Louie" on stage, such as on the 1952 "Can Anyone Explain?" from the live album In Scandinavia vol.1. The same applies to his 1952 studio recording of the song "Chloe", where the choir in the background sings "Louie ... Louie", with Armstrong responding "What was that? Somebody called my name?" "Lewie" is the French pronunciation of "Louis" and is commonly used in Louisiana. In 1970, Louis and Lucille appeared on The Mike Douglas Show to demonstrate the preparation red beans and rice, a dish so enjoyed by Armstrong that he signed correspondence "Red Beans and Ricely Yours". In the video with Armstrong standing at her side, Lucille prepares his favorite red beans recipe and refers to "Louie" several times.
Armstrong appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, usually playing a bandleader or musician. His most familiar role was as the bandleader cum narrator in the 1956 musical High Society in which he sang the title song and performed a duet with Bing Crosby on "Now You Has Jazz". In 1947, he played himself in the movie New Orleans opposite Billie Holiday, which chronicled the demise of the Storyville district and the ensuing exodus of musicians from New Orleans to Chicago. In the 1959 film The Five Pennies he played himself, sang, and played several classic numbers. With Danny Kaye he performed a duet of "When the Saints Go Marching In" during which Kaye impersonated Armstrong. He had a part in the film alongside James Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story.
Armstrong was largely accepted into white society, both on stage and off, a rarity for a black person at the time. Some musicians criticized Armstrong for playing in front of segregated audiences, and for not taking a strong enough stand in the American civil rights movement. When he did speak out, it made national news, including his criticism of President Eisenhower, calling him "two-faced" and "gutless" because of his inaction during the conflict over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. As a protest, Armstrong canceled a planned tour of the Soviet Union on behalf of the State Department saying: "The way they're treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell" and that he could not represent his government abroad when it was in conflict with its own people. The FBI kept a file on Armstrong for his outspokenness about integration.
After finishing his contract with Decca Records, he became a freelance artist and recorded for other labels. He continued an intense international touring schedule, but in 1959 he suffered a heart attack in Italy and had to rest.
During a backstage meeting with trombonist Marshall Brown in 1959, Armstrong received the suggestion that he should go to a doctor and receive proper treatment for his lips instead of relying on home remedies, but he did not get around to doing it until the final years of his life, by which point his health was failing and doctors considered surgery too risky.
His recordings for Columbia Records, Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (1954) and Satch Plays Fats (all Fats Waller tunes) (1955) were both being considered masterpieces, as well as moderately well selling. In 1961 the All Stars participated in two albums—The Great Summit and The Great Reunion (now together as a single disc) with Duke Ellington. The albums feature many of Ellington's most famous compositions (as well as two exclusive cuts) with Duke sitting in on piano. His participation in Dave Brubeck's high-concept jazz musical The Real Ambassadors (1963) was critically acclaimed, and features "Summer Song", one of Armstrong's most popular vocal efforts.
In 1964, after over two years without setting foot in a studio, he recorded his biggest-selling record, "Hello, Dolly!", a song by Jerry Herman, originally sung by Carol Channing. Armstrong's version remained on the Hot 100 for 22 weeks, longer than any other record produced that year, and went to No. 1 making him, at 62 years, 9 months and 5 days, the oldest person ever to accomplish that feat. In the process, he dislodged the Beatles from the No. 1 position they had occupied for 14 consecutive weeks with three different songs.
In 1964, his recording of the song "Hello Dolly" went to number one. An album of the same title was quickly created around the song, and also shot to number one (knocking The Beatles off the top of the chart). The album sold very well for the rest of the year, quickly going "Gold" (500,000). His performance of "Hello Dolly" won for best male pop vocal performance at the 1964 Grammy Awards.
In 1964, Armstrong knocked The Beatles off the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Hello, Dolly!", which gave the 63-year-old performer a U.S. record as the oldest artist to have a number one song. His 1964 song "Bout Time" was later featured in the film Bewitched.
Armstrong kept touring well into his 60s, even visiting part of the communist bloc in 1965. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under the sponsorship of the US State Department with great success, earning the nickname "Ambassador Satch" and inspiring Dave Brubeck to compose his jazz musical The Real Ambassadors. By 1968, he was approaching 70 and his health began to give out. He suffered heart and kidney ailments that forced him to stop touring. He did not perform publicly at all in 1969 and spent most of the year recuperating at home. Meanwhile, his longtime manager Joe Glaser died. By the summer of 1970, his doctors pronounced him fit enough to resume live performances. He embarked on another world tour, but a heart attack forced him to take a break for two months.
Armstrong made his last recorded trumpet performances on his 1968 album Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.
Armstrong performed in Italy at the 1968 Sanremo Music Festival where he sang "Mi Va di Cantare" alongside his friend, the Eritrean-born Italian singer Lara Saint Paul. In February 1968, he also appeared with Lara Saint Paul on the Italian RAI television channel where he performed "Grassa e Bella", a track he sang in Italian for the Italian market and C.D.I. label.
In 1968, Armstrong scored one last popular hit in the United Kingdom with "What a Wonderful World", which topped the British charts for a month. Armstrong appeared on the October 28, 1970, Johnny Cash Show, where he sang Nat King Cole's hit "Ramblin' Rose" and joined Cash to re-create his performance backing Jimmie Rodgers on "Blue Yodel No. 9".
Armstrong was the first African American to host a nationally broadcast radio show in the 1930s. In 1969, he had a cameo role in the film version of Hello, Dolly! as the bandleader Louis. He sang the title song with actress Barbra Streisand. His solo recording of "Hello, Dolly!" is one of his most recognizable performances.
Against his doctor's advice, Armstrong played a two-week engagement in March 1971 at the Waldorf-Astoria's Empire Room. At the end of it, he was hospitalized for a heart attack. He was released from the hospital in May, and quickly resumed practicing his trumpet playing. Still hoping to get back on the road, Armstrong died of a heart attack in his sleep on July 6, 1971, a month before his 70th birthday. He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his death. He was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City. His honorary pallbearers included Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson and David Frost. Peggy Lee sang The Lord's Prayer at the services while Al Hibbler sang "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and Fred Robbins, a long-time friend, gave the eulogy.
Though Armstrong is widely recognized as a pioneer of scat singing, Ethel Waters precedes his scatting on record in the 1930s according to Gary Giddins and others. Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were greatly indebted to him. Holiday said that she always wanted Bessie Smith's 'big' sound and Armstrong's feeling in her singing. Even special musicians like Duke Ellington have praised Armstrong through strong testimonials. Duke Ellington, DownBeat magazine in 1971, said, "If anybody was a master, it was Louis Armstrong. He was and will continue to be the embodiment of jazz." In 1950, Bing Crosby, the most successful vocalist of the first half of the 20th century, said, "He is the beginning and the end of music in America."
Armstrong was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972 by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of the Recording Academy's National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.
Recordings of Armstrong were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance".
The house where Armstrong lived for almost 28 years was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and is now a museum. The Louis Armstrong House Museum, at 34-56 107th Street between 34th and 37th avenues in Corona, Queens, presents concerts and educational programs, operates as a historic house museum and makes materials in its archives of writings, books, recordings and memorabilia available to the public for research. The museum is operated by the Queens College, City University of New York, following the dictates of Lucille Armstrong's will. The museum opened to the public on October 15, 2003. A new visitors center is planned.
Congo Square was a common gathering place for African-Americans in New Orleans for dancing and performing music. The park where Congo Square is located was later renamed Louis Armstrong Park. Dedicated in April 1980, the park includes a 12-foot statue of Armstrong, trumpet in hand.
Armstrong had nineteen "Top Ten" records including "Stardust", "What a Wonderful World", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "You Rascal You", and "Stompin' at the Savoy". "We Have All the Time in the World" was featured on the soundtrack of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and enjoyed renewed popularity in the UK in 1994 when it featured on a Guinness advertisement. It reached number 3 in the charts on being re-released.
In 1995, the U.S. Post Office issued a Louis Armstrong 32 cents commemorative postage stamp.
In 1999 Armstrong was nominated for inclusion in the American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Stars.
In 2002, the Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings (1925–1928) were preserved in the United States National Recording Registry, a registry of recordings selected yearly by the National Recording Preservation Board for preservation in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
Armstrong's marriages never produced any offspring. However, in December 2012, 57-year-old Sharon Preston-Folta claimed to be his daughter from a 1950s affair between Armstrong and Lucille "Sweets" Preston, a dancer at the Cotton Club. In a 1955 letter to his manager, Joe Glaser, Armstrong affirmed his belief that Preston's newborn baby was his daughter, and ordered Glaser to pay a monthly allowance of $400 (US$4,772 in 2019 dollars) to mother and child.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Louis Armstrong among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Currently, Louis Armstrong is 120 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Louis Armstrong will celebrate 121st birthday on a Thursday 4th of August 2022.
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