- 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.
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Armstrong's popularity continued to grow in Chicago throughout the decade, as he began playing other venues, including the Sunset Café and the Savoy Ballroom. A young pianist from Pittsburgh, Earl "Fatha" Hines, assimilated Armstrong's ideas into his piano playing. Together, the two formed a potent team and made some of the greatest recordings in jazz history in 1928, including their virtuoso duet, "Weather Bird," and "West End Blues." The latter performance is one of Armstrong's best known works,
opening with a stunning cadenza that features equal helpings of opera and the blues; with its release, "West End Blues" proved to the world that the musical genre of fun, dance jazz was also capable of producing high art.
In the summer of 1929, Armstrong headed to New York, where he had a role in a Broadway production of Connie's Hot Chocolates, featuring the music of Fats Waller and Andy Razaf. Armstrong was featured nightly on Ain't Misbehavin', breaking up the crowds of white theatergoers nightly. That same year, he recorded with small New Orleans-influenced groups, including the Hot Five, and began recording larger ensembles. Instead of doing strictly jazz numbers, OKeh began allowing Armstrong to record popular songs of the day, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Star Dust" and "Body and Soul." Armstrong's daring vocal transformations of these songs completely changed the concept of popular singing in American popular music, and had lasting effects on all singers who came after him, including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
By 1932, Armstrong had begun appearing in movies and made his first tour of England. While he was beloved by musicians, he was too wild for most critics, who gave him some of the most racist and harsh reviews of his career. Armstrong didn't let the criticism stop him, however, and he returned an even bigger star when he began a longer tour throughout Europe in 1933. In a strange turn of events, it was during this tour that Armstrong's career fell apart: Years of blowing high notes had taken a toll on Armstrong's lips, and, following a fight with his manager, Johnny Collins—who already managed to get Armstrong into trouble with the American mob—he was left stranded overseas by Collins. Armstrong decided to take some time off soon after the incident, and spent much of 1934 relaxing in Europe and resting his lip.
When Armstrong returned to Chicago in 1935, he had no band, no engagements and no recording contract. His lips were still sore, and there were still remnants of his mob troubles and with Lil, who, following the couple's split, was suing Armstrong. He turned to Joe Glaser for help; Glaser had mob ties of his own, having been close with Al Capone, but he had loved Armstrong from the time he met him at the Sunset Café (Glaser had owned and managed the club). Armstrong put his career in Glaser's hands and asked him to make his troubles disappear. Glaser did just that; within a few months, Armstrong had a new big band and was recording for Decca Records.
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.
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