107 Facts About Louis Armstrong

1.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,268
2.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,269
3.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,270
4.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,271
5.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,272
6.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,273
7.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,274
8.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,275
9.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,276
10.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,277
11.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,278
12.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,279
13.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,280
14.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,281
15.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,282
16.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,283
17.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,284
18.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,285
19.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,286
20.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,287
21.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,288
22.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,289
23.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,290
24.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,291
25.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,292
26.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,293
27.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,294
28.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,295
29.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,296
30.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,297
31.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,298
32.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,299
33.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,300
34.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,301
35.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,302
36.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,303
37.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,304
38.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,305
39.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,306
40.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,307
41.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,308
42.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,309
43.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,310
44.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,311
45.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,312
46.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,313
47.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,314
48.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,315
49.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,316
50.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,317
51.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,318
52.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,319
53.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,320
54.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,321
55.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,322
56.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,323
57.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,324
58.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,325
59.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,326
60.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,327
61.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,328
62.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,329
63.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,330
64.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,331
65.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,332
66.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,333
67.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,334
68.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,335
69.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,336
70.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,337
71.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,338
72.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,339
73.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,340
74.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,341
75.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,342
76.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,343
77.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,344
78.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,345
79.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,346
80.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,347
81.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,348
82.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,349
83.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,350
84.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,351
85.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,352
86.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,353
87.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,354
88.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,355
89.

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".

FactSnippet No. 549,356
90.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,357
91.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,358
92.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,359
93.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,360
94.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,361
95.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,362
96.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,363
97.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,364
98.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,365
99.

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.

FactSnippet No. 549,366
100.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,367
101.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,368
102.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,369
103.

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".

FactSnippet No. 549,370
104.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,371
105.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,372
106.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,373
107.

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

FactSnippet No. 549,374