Nick Name: Satchmo
Birthday: July 4, 1901
Died At Age: 70
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Louis Daniel Armstrong, Satchmo, Pops
Born Country: United States
Born in: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Famous as: Trumpeter
Quotes By Louis Armstrong
African American Men
Spouse/Ex-: Alpha Smith, Daisy Parker, Lil Hardin, Lucille Wilson, Alpha Smith (m. 1938–1942), Daisy Parker (m. 1918–1923), Lil Hardin Armstrong (m. 1924–1938), Lucille Wilsonm (m. 1942–1971)
father: William Armstrong
mother: Mary Albert, May-Ann
siblings: Beatrice Armstrong Collins, Henry Armstrong, William Armstrong
children: Clarence Armstrong, Dave Bartholomew, Sharon Preston-Folta
Died on: July 6, 1971
place of death: Corona, New York, United States
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
U.S. State: Louisiana, African-American From Louisiana
City: New Orleans, Louisiana
discoveries/inventions: Swiss Kriss
Who was Louis Armstrong?
Louis Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter and singer. He was one of the most influential figures in jazz music. Famous for his innovative methods of playing the trumpet and cornet, he was also a highly talented singer, blessed with a powerful gravelly voice. Known for his improvisation, Armstrong could induce dramatic effects with his music. Armstrong came into prominence in the mid-20th century when racism was prevalent in the USA. He was one of the first African-American entertainers to become highly popular among the white and the colored segments of the society. Fondly nicknamed ‘Satchmo’ or ‘Pops’ by his fans, he is often regarded as the founding father of jazz. Born into poverty in New Orleans, he had a very difficult childhood as his father abandoned the family. As a young boy, he sought solace in music and started playing musical instruments as a teenager to earn a living. He soon discovered that he was naturally gifted in music. Over a period of time, he established himself as a respected player of jazz music. He entertained millions over the course of his long and illustrious career and went on to become one of the first great celebrities of the 20th century.
Childhood & Early Life
Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, to William Armstrong, a factory worker, and Mary Albert. His family was very poor. His father abandoned the family when Louis was young. His mother often had to resort to prostitution to provide for the family.
He had to drop out of school in order to work and augment his mother’s meager income. He started singing on the streets for money and also began working for a Jewish family, the Karnofskys, who treated young Louis as a family member and appreciated his musical skills.
In 1912, he fired his step-father’s gun in the air during the New Year’s Eve celebration for which he was arrested and sent to the ‘Colored Waif's Home for Boys.’ There, he received musical instruction and realized that he had a natural talent for playing the cornet. By 1914, when he was released from the home, he had realized that his life’s calling was to make music.
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After being released from the ‘Colored Waif's Home for Boys,’ he started taking music more seriously and began playing with a number of bands. He also studied music under experienced musicians, such as Buddy Petit, Kid Ory, and Joe "King" Oliver. By the late-1910s, he had become a popular jazz music player in New Orleans.
In 1922, he moved to Chicago and joined his mentor Joe Oliver’s ‘Creole Jazz Band.’ Chicago was thriving at that time, and offered much scope for entertainers, especially musicians. Soon, Armstrong became very famous and successful, and garnered a huge fan following.
Looking for better career prospects, he left Oliver’s band in 1924 and joined the ‘Fletcher Henderson Orchestra,’ the top African-American dance band in New York City. He proved to be a successful player and soon transformed Henderson’s band into what is today regarded as the ‘first jazz big band.’
America suffered from ‘The Great Depression’ during the late-1920s, and Armstrong’s hitherto thriving career suffered a setback. The depression caused several of the prominent clubs to shut down. Many of his fellow musicians switched to other professions to make a living.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1930 and played at the ‘New Cotton Club.’ The club was often visited by Hollywood personalities, and celebrities like Bing Crosby were regulars at the club. However, Armstrong did not stay there for long and returned to Chicago in 1931.
He traveled a lot during the 1930s and visited countries like Britain, Denmark, France, Scandinavia, and Holland where he performed at concerts. His popularity reached newer heights during the late-1930s.
He also ventured into films and played a band leader in the motion picture ‘Pennies from Heaven’ alongside Bing Crosby in 1936, becoming the first African-American to be billed in a major Hollywood movie. In the ensuing years, he went on to appear in several other movies alongside major Hollywood stars.
He continued performing and recording throughout the 1940s and 1950s, releasing a string of super hits like ‘Blueberry Hill,’ ‘That Lucky Old Sun,’ ‘La Vie En Rose,’ and ‘I Get Ideas.’ During the mid-1950s, his popularity skyrocketed and he embarked on world tours, visiting several countries and performing in front of sold-out crowds in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
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His 1954 studio release ‘Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy’ is considered to be one of his masterpieces. Featuring timeless hits like ‘St. Louis Blues,’ ‘Yellow Dog Blues,’ ‘Loveless Love,’ and ‘Aunt Hagar's Blues,’ the album is described by ‘Allmusic’ as "essential music for all serious jazz collections."
Armstrong’s 1967 single ‘What a Wonderful World’ is an iconic song. At the time of its release, it peaked at No.1 in Austria and the UK. It also reached the top ten positions in several other countries like Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, and Norway.
Awards & Achievements
Louis Armstrong was posthumously awarded the ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 1972 by the ‘Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.’
He was inducted into the ‘Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame’ in 2017.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married four times. His first marriage was with a former prostitute named Daisy Parker in 1919. The marriage was tumultuous from the very beginning and soon ended in a divorce. He had adopted a young boy named Clarence over the course of this marriage.
He married Lil Hardin in 1924. His second wife played a major role in shaping Armstrong’s career, but the two drifted apart in the late-1920s and got divorced years later.
His third marriage was with Alpha Smith. This marriage lasted four years before ending in a divorce.
His fourth and final marriage was with a singer named Lucille Wilson, to whom he was married until his death in 1971.
A prolific musician, he led a very hectic life, often performing up to 300 concerts a year. His lifestyle began taking its toll on his health during the late-1960s and he started suffering from kidney and heart ailments. His health declined steadily in 1970, and he died in his sleep on July 6, 1971, at his home in Queens, New York.
In 2012, a woman named Sharon Preston claimed that she is his biological daughter. She claimed that she was born from an affair which he had with a dancer named Lucille Preston in the 1950s. Armstrong’s personal letters from the 1950s confirmed the fact that he had paid for her upbringing.