Louis Armstrong was a jazz trumpeter, bandleader and singer known for songs like “What a Wonderful World,” “Hello, Dolly,” ”Star Dust” and “La Vie En Rose.”
Who Was Louis Armstrong?
Louis Armstrong, nicknamed “Satchmo,” “Pops” and, later, “Ambassador Satch,” was a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. An all-star virtuoso, he came to prominence in the 1920s, influencing countless musicians with both his daring trumpet style and unique vocals.
Armstrong’s charismatic stage presence impressed not only the jazz world but all of popular music. He recorded several songs throughout his career, including he is known for songs like “Star Dust,” “La Vie En Rose” and “What a Wonderful World.”
Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a neighborhood so poor that it was nicknamed “The Battlefield.”
Armstrong had a difficult childhood: His father was a factory worker and abandoned the family soon after Louis’s birth. His mother, who often turned to prostitution, frequently left him with his maternal grandmother. Armstrong was obligated to leave school in the fifth grade to begin working.
A local Jewish family, the Karnofskys, gave young Armstrong a job collecting junk and delivering coal. They also encouraged him to sing and often invited him into their home for meals. commons
The records by Louis Armstrong and His Five–and later, Hot Seven–are the most influential in jazz. Armstrong’s improvised solos transformed jazz from an ensemble-based music into a soloist’s art, while his expressive vocals incorporated innovative bursts of scat singing and an underlying swing feel. By the end of the decade, the popularity of the Hot Fives and Sevens was enough to send Armstrong back to New York, where he appeared in the popular Broadway revue, “Hot Chocolates.” He soon began touring and never really stopped until his death in 1971.
The 1930s also found Armstrong achieving great popularity on radio, in films, and with his recordings. He performed in Europe for the first time in 1932 and returned in 1933, staying for over a year because of a damaged lip. Back in America in 1935, Armstrong hired Joe Glaser as his manager and began fronting a big band, recording pop songs for Decca, and appearing regularly in movies. He began touring the country in the 1940s.
In 1947, the waning popularity of the big bands forced Armstrong to begin fronting a small group, Louis Armstrong and His All Stars. Personnel changed over the years but this remained Armstrong’s main performing vehicle for the rest of his career. He had a string of pop hits beginning in 1949 and started making regular overseas tours, where his popularity was so great, he was dubbed “Ambassador Satch.”
In America, Armstrong had been a great Civil Rights pioneer for his race, breaking down numerous barriers as a young man. In the 1950s, he was sometimes criticized for his onstage persona and called an “Uncle Tom” but he silenced critics by speaking out against the government’s handling of the “Little Rock Nine” high school integration crisis in 1957.
Armstrong continued touring the world and making records with songs like “Blueberry Hill” (1949), “Mack the Knife” (1955) and “Hello, Dolly! (1964),” the latter knocking the Beatles off the top of the pop charts at the height of Beatlemania.
The many years of constant touring eventually wore down Armstrong, who had his first heart attack in 1959 and returned to intensive care at Beth Israel Hospital for heart and kidney trouble in 1968. Doctors advised him not to play but Armstrong continued to practice every day in his Corona, Queens home, where he had lived with his fourth wife, Lucille, since 1943.
He returned to performing in 1970 but it was too much, too soon and he passed away in his sleep on July 6, 1971, a few months after his final engagement at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. http://www.louisarmstronghouse.org
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Tragic Things About Louis Armstrong