107 Facts About Louis Armstrong


Louis Armstrong's career spanned five decades and different eras in the history of jazz.

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Louis Armstrong is renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice as well as his trumpet playing.

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Louis Armstrong was one of the first popular African-American entertainers to "cross over" to wide popularity with white audiences.

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Louis Armstrong was able to access the upper echelons of American society at a time when this was difficult for black men.

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Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901.

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Louis Armstrong was raised by his grandmother until the age of five when he was returned to his mother.

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Louis Armstrong spent his youth in poverty in a rough neighborhood known as The Battlefield, on the southern section of Rampart Street.

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At the age of 6, Louis Armstrong lived with his mother and sister and worked for the Karnoffskys, a family of Lithuanian Jews, at their home.

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Louis Armstrong would help their two sons, Morris and Alex, collect "rags and bones" and deliver coal.

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Louis Armstrong writes about singing "Russian Lullaby" with the Karnofsky family when their baby son David was put to bed and credits the family with teaching him to sing "from the heart.

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Louis Armstrong wore a Star of David until the end of his life in memory of this family who had raised him.

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Louis Armstrong's mother moved into a one-room house on Perdido Street with Armstrong, Lucy, and her common-law husband, Tom Lee, next door to her brother Ike and his two sons.

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Louis Armstrong joined a quartet of boys who sang in the streets for money.

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Louis Armstrong spent the night at New Orleans Juvenile Court, then was sentenced the next day to detention at the Colored Waif's Home.

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Louis Armstrong developed his cornet skills by playing in the band.

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On June 14, 1914, Louis Armstrong was released into the custody of his father and his new stepmother, Gertrude.

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Louis Armstrong lived in this household with two stepbrothers for several months.

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Louis Armstrong met the six-foot tall drummer Black Benny, who became his guide and bodyguard.

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Louis Armstrong briefly studied shipping management at the local community college, but was forced to quit after being unable to afford the fees.

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Louis Armstrong heard the early sounds of jazz from bands that played in brothels and dance halls such as Pete Lala's, where King Oliver performed.

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Early in his career, Louis Armstrong played in brass bands and riverboats in New Orleans, first on an excursion boat in September 1918.

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Louis Armstrong traveled with the band of Fate Marable, which toured on the steamboat Sidney with the Streckfus Steamers line up and down the Mississippi River.

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Louis Armstrong described his time with Marable as "going to the University", since it gave him a wider experience working with written arrangements.

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Louis Armstrong became one of the first jazz musicians to be featured on extended trumpet solos, injecting his own personality and style.

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In 1922, Louis Armstrong moved to Chicago at the invitation of King Oliver, although Louis Armstrong would return to New Orleans periodically for the rest of his life.

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Louis Armstrong lived luxuriously in his own apartment with his first private bath.

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Louis Armstrong had to stand fifteen feet away from Oliver, in a far corner of the room.

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Lil Hardin, who Louis Armstrong would marry in 1924, urged Louis Armstrong to seek more prominent billing and develop his style apart from the influence of Oliver.

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At her suggestion, Louis Armstrong began to play classical music in church concerts to broaden his skills; and he began to dress more in more stylish attire to offset his girth.

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Shortly afterward, Louis 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.

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Louis Armstrong switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section.

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Louis Armstrong adapted to the tightly controlled style of Henderson, playing trumpet and experimenting with the trombone.

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Louis Armstrong's act included singing and telling tales of New Orleans characters, especially preachers.

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In 1925, Louis Armstrong returned to Chicago largely at the insistence of Lil, who wanted to expand his career and his income.

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Louis Armstrong's band leading style was easygoing, as St Cyr noted, "One felt so relaxed working with him, and he was very broad-minded.

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Louis Armstrong played with Erskine Tate's Little Symphony, which played mostly at the Vendome Theatre.

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Louis Armstrong made a huge impact during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance within the Jazz world.

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Louis Armstrong's music touched many, including a well-known writer during that time named Langston Hughes.

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Hughes admired Louis Armstrong and acknowledged him as one of the most recognized musicians during the era.

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Louis 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.

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Louis Armstrong made a cameo appearance as a vocalist, regularly stealing the show with his rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'".

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Louis 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.

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Louis Armstrong had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael.

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Louis Armstrong moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to seek new opportunities.

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Louis Armstrong played at the New Cotton Club in Los Angeles with Lionel Hampton on drums.

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In 1931, Louis Armstrong appeared in his first movie, Ex-Flame and was convicted of marijuana possession but received a suspended sentence.

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Louis Armstrong returned to Chicago in late 1931 and played in bands more in the Guy Lombardo vein and he recorded more standards.

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Louis Armstrong sponsored a local baseball team known as Armstrong's Secret Nine and had a cigar named after him.

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Louis Armstrong 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.

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Louis Armstrong began to experience problems with his fingers and lips, which were aggravated by his unorthodox playing style.

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In 1937, Louis Armstrong substituted for Rudy Vallee on the CBS radio network and became the first African American to host a sponsored, national broadcast.

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Widespread revival of interest in the 1940s in the traditional jazz of the 1920s made it possible for Louis Armstrong to consider a return to the small-group musical style of his youth.

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Louis 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.

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Louis Armstrong was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine, on February 21, 1949.

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Louis Armstrong continued an intense international touring schedule, but in 1959 he suffered a heart attack in Italy and had to rest.

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Louis Armstrong kept touring well into his 60s, even visiting part of the communist bloc in 1965.

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Louis Armstrong 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.

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Louis Armstrong suffered heart and kidney ailments that forced him to stop touring.

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Louis Armstrong did not perform publicly at all in 1969 and spent most of the year recuperating at home.

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Louis Armstrong embarked on another world tour, but a heart attack forced him to take a break for two months.

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Louis Armstrong made his last recorded trumpet performances on his 1968 album Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.

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Louis Armstrong returned to Gretna on several occasions to visit her.

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Louis Armstrong found the courage to look for her home to see her away from work.

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Clarence Louis Armstrong was mentally disabled as the result of a head injury at an early age, and Louis Armstrong spent the rest of his life taking care of him.

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Louis Armstrong's had divorced her first husband a few years earlier.

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Louis Armstrong then married Lucille Wilson, a singer at the Cotton Club in New York, in October 1942; they remained married until his death in 1971.

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Louis Armstrong's autobiography vexed some biographers and historians, as he had a habit of telling tales, particularly of his early childhood when he was less scrutinized, and his embellishments of his history often lack consistency.

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Louis Armstrong was beloved by an American public that gave even the greatest African American performers little access beyond their public celebrity, and he was able to live a private life of access and privilege afforded to few other African Americans during that era.

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Louis Armstrong generally remained politically neutral, which at times alienated him from members of the black community who looked to him to use his prominence with white America to become more of an outspoken figure during the civil rights movement.

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Also in 1959, Louis Armstrong was hospitalized for pneumonia while on tour in Italy.

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Louis Armstrong scooped the coins off the street and stuck them into his mouth to prevent bigger children from stealing them.

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Louis Armstrong always celebrated his heritage as an African American man from a poor New Orleans neighborhood, and tried to avoid what he called "putting on airs.

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Louis Armstrong wore the Star of David in honor of the Karnoffsky family, who took him in as a child and lent him money to buy his first cornet.

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Louis Armstrong used laxatives to control his weight, a practice he advocated both to acquaintances and in the diet plans he published under the title Lose Weight the Satchmo Way.

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Louis 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.

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Louis Armstrong described marijuana as "a thousand times better than whiskey".

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Louis Armstrong kept a strong connection throughout his life to the cooking of New Orleans, always signing his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours.

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However, Louis Armstrong stated in his autobiography that he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, which although real is not a Masonic group.

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The solo that Louis Armstrong plays during the song "Potato Head Blues" has long been considered his best solo of that series.

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Louis Armstrong was virtually the first to create significant variations based on the chord harmonies of the songs instead of merely on the melodies.

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Louis Armstrong's playing technique, honed by constant practice, extended the range, tone and capabilities of the trumpet.

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Louis Armstrong was one of the first artists to use recordings of his performances to improve himself.

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Louis Armstrong had a large collection of recordings, including reel-to-reel tapes, which he took on the road with him in a trunk during his later career.

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Louis Armstrong enjoyed listening to his own recordings, and comparing his performances musically.

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At a recording session for Okeh Records, when the sheet music supposedly fell on the floor and the music began before he could pick up the pages, Armstrong simply started singing nonsense syllables while Okeh president E A Fearn, who was at the session, kept telling him to continue.

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Louis Armstrong did, thinking the track would be discarded, but that was the version that was pressed to disc, sold, and became an unexpected hit.

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Long before this, however, Louis Armstrong was playing around with his vocals, shortening and lengthening phrases, interjecting improvisations, using his voice as creatively as his trumpet.

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In 1968, Louis Armstrong scored one last popular hit in the United Kingdom with "What a Wonderful World", which topped the British charts for a month.

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Louis 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".

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Louis Armstrong enjoyed many types of music, from blues to the arrangements of Guy Lombardo, to Latin American folksongs, to classical symphonies and opera.

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Louis Armstrong incorporated influences from all these sources into his performances, sometimes to the bewilderment of fans who wanted him to stay in convenient narrow categories.

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Louis Armstrong was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence.

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Louis Armstrong appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, usually playing a bandleader or musician.

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Louis Armstrong appears throughout the film, sings the title song as well as performs a duet with Crosby, "Now You Has Jazz".

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Louis Armstrong had a part in the film alongside James Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story.

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In 1937, Louis Armstrong was the first African American to host a nationally broadcast radio show.

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Louis Armstrong was heard on such radio programs as The Story of Swing and This Is Jazz (1947), and he made television appearances, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, including appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

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Against his doctor's advice, Louis Armstrong played a two-week engagement in March 1971 at the Waldorf-Astoria's Empire Room.

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Still hoping to get back on the road, Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack in his sleep on July 6, 1971, two days after celebrating his alleged 71st birthday, and a month before his actual 70th birthday.

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Louis Armstrong was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his death.

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Louis Armstrong was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City.

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Louis Armstrong was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972 by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

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Recordings of Louis 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".

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In 1999 Louis Armstrong was nominated for inclusion in the American Film Institute's 100 Years.

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Louis Armstrong was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist.

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Louis Armstrong was and will continue to be the embodiment of jazz.

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House where Louis Armstrong lived for almost 28 years was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and is a museum.

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