Louis Armstrong has often been referred to as the Father of Jazz because of his immense talent and his influence on the way that people think about music. His life’s story is a tale of success and his trumpet playing continues to revolutionize the world of music.
Did you know the following interesting facts about one of the world’s greatest musicians?
Fact 1: Louis had a tough bringing up. His father, William Armstrong abandoned the family in 1902, when Louis was only a year old. His mother was forced to resort to prostitution in order to support her family.
Fact 2: Louis dropped out of school at the age of 11 and earned a living singing on the streets of New Orleans with a quartet.
Fact 3: He developed a love for music at the New Orleans Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, where he was sent in 1913 for firing a pistol in the sky during a New Year celebration.
Fact 4: While at the home for boys, Louis was taken under the wing of Professors Peter Davis, who recognized his talent and taught him music. When he left in 1914, he began to play the cornet around New Orleans.
Fact 5: Louis was nicknamed “Satchmo”, short for “Satchel mouth”, a reference to the size of his mouth.
Fact 6: In 1918, Armstrong married his first wife Daisy Parker and together they adopted a 3 year old mentally disabled boy, Clarence Armstrong. His second wife was Lil Hardin whom he married in 1924. In 1938 he divorced Lil and married Alpha Smith. Eventually he married Lucile Wilson in 1942, with whom he remained until his death.
Fact 7: At the invitation of Joe “King” Oliver, a leading cornet player from New Orleans, Armstrong moved to Chicago in 1922, where he played in Oliver’s band. Just two years later, he joined Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra, a top African-American dance band, in New York.
Fact 8: New Orleans, Armstrong’s home town, was the birthplace of Jazz. African American’s began to play a new kind of music in this town, a combination of blues, ragtime, marches, gospel songs and spirituals which later come to be known as Jazz.
Fact 9: Armstrong’s most influential work was recorded between 1925 and 1928 with a band under his own name, Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, later Hot Seven. During these short three years he recorded over 60 albums which included swing rhythms and extremely high pitched notes, that were relatively new to music and changed jazz history.
Fact 9: In 1926 Armstrong made the switch from the cornet to the trumpet while playing with Erskine Tate’s orchestra.
Fact 10: In 1929, Armstrong took a role in a Broadway production “Connie’s Hot Chocolates”, later he also developed a career in movies, appearing in Hollywood films such as “Going Places” and “Cabin in the Sky”.
Fact 11: Armstrong was the first African American with a radio program!
Fact 12: In the early 1930’s Armstrong ran into mob troubles! During this period, organized crime owned many of the night clubs in large cities. Following a hard time with rival mob bosses, from Chicago and New York, Armstrong toured the country and spent time in California, before leaving for Europe where he stayed for a few months.
Fact 13: Upon his return Armstrong hired manager Joe Glaser, who was supposedly friends with Al Capone.
Fact 14: In the 1950’s Armstrong was a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. during the Cold War. The State Department sponsored many of his tours.
Fact 15: In 1956 Armstrong performed at a concert celebrating Ghana’s independence, which was attended by more than 100,000 of his fans.
Fact 16: In 1957, Armstrong spoke up against racial discrimination, for the first time, after a white mob in Little Rock, Arkansas, protested against the right of young black children to attend a white school.
Fact 17: In 1964 Armstrong received a Grammy for the best vocal performance for his rendition of the song “Hello, Dolly”.
Fact 18: His 1970 recording “It’s A Wonderful World” was also his last word wide hit. Introducing this song, he summed up his life-philosophy with the words “And all I’m saying is, see what a wonderful world it would be if only we would give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret. Yeah.”
Fact 19: Armstrong had a top 10 record in every decade stretching from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.