Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)


Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans. Armstrong was born into both a very poor family and neighborhood. Soon after his birth Armstrong's father left, and his mother worked as a part-time prostitute. Armstrong lived predominantly with his Grandmother for the first 5 years of his life. New Year's Eve 1913, Armstrong celebrated by firing a friends pistol, into the air. A nearby policeman arrested Armstrong, and sent him to the Colored Waif's home for boys. It was at this home, that Armstrong received his first instruction in music, from Peter Davis, the homes Music Director. He was first taught to play the cornet and bugle. Armstrong was released from Waif's 18 months later, and he continued to pursue music.

Once released from the Colored Waif's home, Armstrong began to pursue music much more seriously. He often played with his mentor Joe "king" Oliver, in various pick-up bands. When Oliver moved to Chicago in 1918, Armstrong took his place in the Kid Ory Band, a popular jazz group in New Orleans. After playing with Kid Ory for a few years band leader Fate Marable asked Armstrong to perform on riverboats. After playing on th River boats, Armstong followed Oliver to Chicago and his career in Music really began to pick up.

Armstrong's Career Louis.jpg

After Louis traveled to Chicago and then played on riverboats he then moved back to Chicago to play 2nd cornet in Joe Oliver's band, Separates From Daisy. In 1922 Amstrong made his first recording, as a member of Olivers band. Then in 1924 Armstrong moved to New York, and played with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. Once playing with the Orchestra Armstrong began recording albums with the orchestra and also blues singer Bessie Smithand Clarence Williams. Then in 1925 Armstrong made his way back to New Y
Louis and his Hot Five
ork and began his own group, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five. After starting a group, Armstrong continued to paly for various gigs and orchestra throughout New York, including Carroll Dickersons Savoy Orchestra. Also in 1929 he appeared in a broadway play, Hot Chocolates. By this time Armstrong was making a name for himself, and continued to work hard in the music world. In 1932 Armstrong decided to make the move to Chicago again. This time to begin his own touring band. After touring in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. they called it quits. Armstrong then expanded his career into the film world and appears in Ex-Flame, the first of many productions that Armstrong would take part in. Also like many other jazz artist of the day, Armstrong didn't just play and instrument, he often sang as well. Then in 1932 Armstrong headed to England. He toured there for 3 months and was a big success. When back in the states he toured Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska. In 1934 Armstrong traveled back to Europe and lived in Paris for that year. Continuing his back and forth pattern, Armstrong headed back to the states. In 1936 he was in the film "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby. Over the Course of the next few years Armstong continued to take small roles in films, and making headway in the Music world. Then in 1943 Armstrong started the Louis Armstroimages.jpgng Orchestra. However as the 40's came to a close listeners felt Armstrong's music had become too commercial. In 1947 Armstrong made the decision to end his orchestra and begin a smaller group, Louis Armstrong and the All-stars. This was the group that helped change the jazz world. Due to this group Armstrong is took a big role what is now called the dixie-land revival. The group was called the All-Stars becuase it contained many exceptional musicians. This group toured extensively to Asia, Africa, South America and Europe for the next 20 years. They stopped their tour and headed home for the states whe Armstrong's health started to decline. Then in 1963 Armstrong he had a hit when he did a rendition of "Hello Dolly" that hit the top of charts world-wide. Then in 1968 Louis Armstrong made his last recording, another number one hit, "What a Wonderful World", the song that Armstrong is most commonly known for. Then on July 6, 1971 Armstrong died in his sleep at his home in Queens, New York. On that day one of the greatest jazz musicians died, but his music continues to be popular and loved by people today.

Impact on History

Louis "satchmo" Armstrong
Louis Armstrong is one of the greatest Jazz musicians of all time. It wasn't easy to get to the top though, Armstrong had to work extremely hard to get to there. When growing up as a young child Armstrong had to help support his mother and sister. From a young age he was working for or towards something. After being sent to Waif's home, Armstrong really picked up music. However, during his day African Americans were still strongly discriminated against. Yet, this didn't stop or slow Armstrong down. It just meant that he had to work twice as hard to get just as far as other Musicians of the time. After making a name for himself in the bigband/orchestra setting, Armstrong took a chance by trying something new with his take on Jazz music, dixie-land music. This new style was developed collaboratively through Armstrong and other musicians he played with later in his career. Not only did Armstrong shine on the trumpet, but also is remebered for his unforgettable singing voice.

What a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong performs What a Wonderful World.

Armstrong and his All-stars perfrom Stompin' at the Savoy. One of Armstrongs most famous tunes.


"Armstrong, Louis." America the Beautiful. 2008. Grolier Online. 29 May 2008 <http://atb.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?templatename=profile.html&