Biography – Louis Armstrong Home Museum

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Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 4, 1901. He was raised by his mother Mayann in a neighborhood so dangerous it was called “The Battlefield.” he only had a fifth grade education, dropping out of school early to go to work. An early job working for the Jewish Karnofsky family allowed Armstrong to earn enough money to buy his first cornet.

On New Year’s Eve 1912, he was arrested and sent to the home for abandoned colored children. there, under the tutelage of peter davis, he learned to play the bugle correctly and eventually became the leader of the marching band at the home for abandoned children. Released from the home of the waif in 1914, Armstrong set his sights on becoming a professional musician. Under the tutelage of the town’s leading cornet player, Joe “King” Oliver, Armstrong soon became one of the city’s most in-demand cornet players, eventually working steadily on Mississippi riverboats.

in 1922, king oliver sent for armstrong to join his gang in chicago. Armstrong and Oliver became the talk of the town with their intricate two-cornet breaks and began making records together in 1923. At this time, Armstrong began dating the band’s pianist, Lillian Hardin. In 1924, Armstrong married Hardin, who urged Armstrong to leave Oliver and try to make it on her own. A year in New York with Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra proved unsatisfactory, so Armstrong returned to Chicago in 1925 and began making records under his own name for the first time.

hotter than that

Louis Armstrong’s records and his five, and later the Hot Seven, are the most influential in jazz. Armstrong’s improvised solos transformed jazz from ensemble-based music into a soloist’s art, while his expressive voice incorporated innovative bursts of scat singing and an underlying swing feel. By the end of the decade, the popularity of the Hot Five and the Hot Seven was enough to send Armstrong back to New York, where he appeared in the popular Broadway revue, “Hot Chocolates.” he soon began touring and never really stopped until his death in 1971.

The 1930s also saw Armstrong achieve great popularity on the radio, in movies, and with his recordings. He first performed in Europe in 1932 and returned in 1933, staying for over a year due to a lip injury. Back in America in 1935, Armstrong hired Joe Glaser as his manager and began leading a big band, recording pop songs for Decca and regularly appearing in movies. he began touring the country in the 1940s.

ambassador bag

in 1947, the waning popularity of the big bands forced armstrong to begin leading a small group, louis armstrong and his stars. The personnel changed over the years, but it remained Armstrong’s main performance vehicle for the rest of his career. He had a string of pop hits beginning in 1949 and began touring regularly abroad, where his popularity was so great that he was nicknamed the “satch ambassador.”

in america, armstrong had been a great pioneer of civil rights, breaking down numerous barriers as a young man. In the 1950s, he was sometimes criticized for his stage persona and called “Uncle Tom,” but he silenced critics by speaking out against the government’s handling of the integration crisis of the “Little Rock Nine” high school. ” in 1957.

Armstrong continued to tour the world and record records with songs like “blueberry hill” (1949), “mack the knife” (1955) and “hello, dolly! (1964)”, the latter knocking the Beatles off the top of the pop charts at the height of Beatlemania.

good evening everyone

The many years of constant touring eventually wore on Armstrong, who suffered his first heart attack in 1959 and returned to intensive care at Beth Israel Hospital for heart and kidney problems in 1968. Doctors advised him not to play, but Armstrong continued to practice daily at his home in Corona, Queens, where he had lived with his fourth wife, Lucille, since 1943. He returned to acting in 1970, but it was too much, too soon, and he passed away in his sleep on July 6, 1971. a few months after their final engagement at the waldorf-astoria in new york city.

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