- NAME: Louis Armstrong
- OCCUPATION: Singer, Trumpet Player
- BIRTH DATE: August 04, 1901
- DEATH DATE: July 06, 1971
- Did You Know?: In 1936, Louis Armstrong became the first African-American jazz musician to write an autobiography, Swing That Music.
- Did You Know?: Also in 1936, Louis Armstrong became the first African American to get featured billing in a major Hollywood movie with his turn in Pennies from Heaven.
- Did You Know?: In 1937, Louis Armstrong became the first African-American entertainer to host a nationally sponsored radio show.
- EDUCATION: Fisk School for Boys, Colored Waif's Home for Boys
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New Orleans, Louisiana
- PLACE OF DEATH: Corona, Queens, New York
- Nickname: "Pops"
- Nickname: "Satchmo"
- Full Name: Louis Armstrong
- Nickname: "Ambassador Satch"
Best Known For
Louis Armstrong was a trumpeter, bandleader, singer, soloist, film star and comedian. Considered one of the most influential artists in jazz history, he is known for songs like "Star Dust," "La Via En Rose" and "What a Wonderful World."
Louis Armstrong - Nicknames (1:30)
Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo," "Pops" and, later, "Ambassador Satch," was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. An all-star virtuoso, he came to prominence in the 1920s, influencing countless musicians.
In an era of marches and sit ins, vocal advocates for African-American rights questioned Louis Armstrong dedication to their cause. But in 1957, after seeing the Little Rock Nine, Louis Armstrong makes his voice heard.
Louis Armstrong biographer Ricky Riccardi tells the story behind Louis Armstrong's most famous nickname, "Satchmo."
In 1943 Lucille Armstrong bought the house at 34-65 107th street in Queens, New York for around $8,000. Site unseen, Louis gaves his approval and for the first time in a while, comes home.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Though Armstrong was content to remain in New Orleans, in the summer of 1922, he received a call from King Oliver to come to Chicago and join his Creole Jazz Band on second cornet. Armstrong accepted, and he was soon taking Chicago by storm with both his remarkably firery playing and the dazzling two-cornet breaks that he shared with Oliver. He made his first recordings with Oliver on April 5, 1923; that day,
he earned his first recorded solo on "Chimes Blues."
Armstrong soon began dating the female pianist in the band, Lillian Hardin. After they married in 1924, Hardin made it clear that she felt Oliver was holding Armstrong back. She pushed her husband to cut ties with his mentor and join Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, the top African-American dance band in New York City at the time. Armstrong joined Henderson in the fall of 1924, and immediately made his presence felt with a series of solos that introduced the concept of swing music to the band. Armstrong had a great influence on Henderson and his arranger, Don Redman, both of whom began integrating Armstrong's swinging vocabulary into their arrangements—transforming Henderson's band into what is generally regarded as the first jazz big band.
However, Armstrong's southern background didn't mesh well with the more urban, Northern mentality of Henderson's other musicians, who sometimes gave Armstrong a hard time over his wardrobe and the way he talked. Henderson also forbade Armstrong from singing, fearing that his rough way of vocalizing would be too coarse for the sophisticated audiences at the Roseland Ballroom. Unhappy, Armstrong left Henderson in 1925 to return to Chicago, where he began playing with his wife Lil's band at the Dreamland Café.
While in New York, Armstrong cut dozens of records as a sideman, creating inspirational jazz with other greats such as Sidney Bechet, and backing numerous blues singers, namely Bessie Smith. Back in Chicago, OKeh Records decided to let Armstrong make his first records with a band under his own name: Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five. From 1925 to 1928, Armstrong made more than 60 records with the Hot Five and, later, the Hot Seven. Today, these are generally regarded as the most important and influential recordings in jazz history; on these records, Armstrong's virtuoso brilliance helped transform jazz from an ensemble music to a soloist's art. His stop-time solos on numbers like "Cornet Chop Suey" and "Potato Head Blues" changed jazz history, featuring daring rhythmic choices, swinging phrasing and incredible high notes. He also began singing on these recordings, popularizing wordless "scat singing" with his hugely popular vocal on 1926's "Heebie Jeebies."
The Hot Five and Hot Seven were strictly recording groups; Armstrong performed nightly during this period with Erskine Tate's orchestra at the Vendome Theater, often playing music for silent movies. While performing with Tate in 1926, Armstrong finally switched from the cornet to the trumpet.
Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum for more information about Louis Armstrong’s life, music and home in Corona, Queens.
Read more about Louis Armstrong in What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years by Ricky Riccardi.
Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
profile name: Louis Armstrong profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
After the Civil War, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals moved to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Thanks largely to the efforts of these residents, Harlem became both the cradle of a cultural revolution and the heart of the civil rights movement. Meet some of the many people who gave—and continue to give—this neighborhood a voice, simply by calling it home.
Famous Harlem Residents 62 people in this group
They've been referred to as a sign of happiness, luck, good fortune, sexuality and wanderlust. Cultures all around the world have their take on gap teeth, and now—thanks to prominent figures who proudly flash the space in their smile—they're considered a mark of beauty and individuality. Here are a few of the stars who helped to make gap teeth fashionable, proving to men and women everywhere that they no longer need to be ashamed of their grins.
Gap-Toothed Grinners 49 people in this group
With its roots in the blues, jazz has been referred to as America's classical music, yet has also become a major global phenomenon, branching off into a variety of forms. Earlier pioneers like Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton paved the way for the swinging big-band sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. In contrast, contemporaries Dizzie Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk developed bebop, with its speedy, dissonant harmonies and improvisations. And Miles Davis heralded the birth of cool jazz, modal jazz and fusion at different points in his career. Famous jazz instrumentalists have tended to be male, yet women have been at the forefront of the genre when it comes to vocalization, from the brassy blues of Bessie Smith to the haunting eclecticism of Nina Simone.
Famous Jazz Musicians 29 people in this group