- 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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Perhaps most importantly, the letters also detail Armstrong's fatherly love for Sharon. While only a DNA test could officially prove whether a blood relationship does exist between Armstrong and Sharon—and one has never been conducted between the two—believers and skeptics can at least agree on one thing: Sharon's uncanny resemblance to the jazz legend.
Armstrong continued a grueling touring schedule into the late '50s, and it caught up with him in 1959, when he had a heart attack while traveling in Spoleto, Italy. The musician didn't let the incident stop him, however, and after taking a few weeks off to recover, he was back on the road, performing 300 nights a year into the 1960s.
Armstrong was still a popular attraction around the world in 1963, but hadn't made a record in two years. In December of that year, he was called into the studio to record the title number for a Broadway show that hadn't opened yet: Hello, Dolly! The record was released in 1964 and quickly climbed to the top of the pop music charts, hitting the No. 1 slot in May 1964, and knocking the Beatles off the top at the height of Beatlemania. This newfound popularity introduced Armstrong to a new, younger audience, and he continued making both successful records and concert appearances for the rest of the decade, even cracking the "Iron Curtain" with a tour of Communist countries such as East Berlin and Czechoslovakia in 1965.
In 1967, Armstrong recorded a new ballad, "What a Wonderful World." Different from most of his recordings of the era, the song features no trumpet and places Armstrong's gravelly voice in the middle of a bed of strings and angelic voices. Armstrong sang his heart out on the number, thinking of his home in Queens as he did so, but "What a Wonderful World" received little promotion in the United States. The tune did, however, become a No. 1 hit around the world, including in England and South Africa, and eventually became Armstrong's most-lasting song after it was used in the 1986 film Good Morning, Vietnam.
By 1968, Armstrong's grueling lifestyle had finally caught up with him. Heart and kidney problems forced him to stop performing in 1969. That same year, his longtime manager, Joe Glaser, passed away. Armstrong spent much of that year at home, but managed to continue practicing the trumpet daily.
By the summer of 1970, Armstrong was allowed to perform publicly again and play the trumpet. After a successful engagement in Las Vegas, Armstrong began taking engagements around the world, including in London and Washington, D.C. and New York (he performed for two weeks at New York's Waldorf-Astoria). However, a heart attack two days after the Waldorf gig sidelined him for two months.
Armstrong returned home in May 1971, and though he soon resumed playing again and promised to perform in public once more, he died in his sleep on July 6, 1971, at his home in Queens, New York.
Since his death, Armstrong's stature has only continued to grow.
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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