Louis Armstrong


Armstrong embellished his life story frequently, so there is much about his biography, particularly in his early years, that, revisited, is revised over the years as we come to find out more of the truth about his history beyond the tales that he told the media and early biographers who often had less access to information that has surfaced since his death in 1971.

Early Life Edit

Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, the grandson of slaves, into a very poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana. He often stated that he was born on July 4, 1900,[1] a date that has been noted in many biographies. It was not until the mid-1980s that his true birth date of was discovered through the examination of baptismal records.[2]
He spent his youth in poverty, in a rough neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, known as the “Back of Town. ”He brought in some money as a paperboy and also by finding discarded food and selling it to restaurants. It was not enough to keep his mother from prostitution, though.
Armstrong's father, William Armstrong (1881–1922), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant and took up with another woman. His mother, Mary "Mayann" Albert (1886–1942), then left Louis and his younger sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987) in the care of his grandmother, Josephine Armstrong, and at times, his Uncle Isaac.
At five, he moved back to live with his mother and her relatives, and saw his father only in parades.

Early Education in the School of Hard KnocksEdit

He attended the Fisk School for Boys, but his education was of a broader kind.
It was in the neighborhood that he likely had his first exposure to Creole music native to Louisiana and parts of Texas settled by French Catholics, and to the earliest days of the birth of jazz music.
He hung out in dance halls close to home, where he observed everything from licentious dancing to the quadrille.
For extra money he also hauled coal to Storyville, the famed red-light district, and listened to the bands playing in the brothels and dance halls there. He especially recalled Pete Lala's where Joe "King" Oliver performed, and other famous musicians would drop in to jam.
After dropping out of the Fisk School at age eleven, Armstrong joined a quartet of boys that sang in the streets for money.
He also worked for a Lithuanian-Jewish immigrant family, the Karnofskys, who had a junk hauling business and gave him odd jobs. They took him in and treated him as almost a family member, knowing he lived without a father, and would feed and nurture him.[3] He later wrote a memoir of his relationship with the Karnofskys titled, Louis Armstrong + the Jewish Family in New Orleans, La., the Year of 1907. In it he describes his discovery that this family was also subject to discrimination by "other white folks' nationalities who felt that they were better than the Jewish race. I was only seven years old but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the White Folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for."
Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans...It has given me something to live for.

—Louis Armstrong

Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life and wrote about what he learned from them: "how to live—real life and determination."[4] The influence of Karnofsky is remembered in New Orleans by the Karnofsky Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to accepting donated musical instruments to "put them into the hands of an eager child who could not otherwise take part in a wonderful learning experience."[5]
He was a frequent guest of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he was sent multiple times for general delinquency, most notably for a long stretch after firing his stepfather's pistol into the air at a New Year's Eve celebration, as police records confirm.
At fourteen, he was released from the Home, but his home life outside of the institution was the same chaos in which he had lived most of his life. He went to live with his father and new stepmother for a time, and then, when that did not work out, back with his mother, and then, when he could not stay with her, back to the streets with their struggle to survive and their many temptations.
Armstrong hardly looked back at his youth as the worst of times but instead drew inspiration from it, “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans...It has given me something to live for.”

Personal LifeEdit

Marriages & FamilyEdit

On March 19, 1918, Louis married Daisy Parker from Gretna, Louisiana. They adopted a 3-year-old boy, Clarence Armstrong, whose mother, Louis's cousin Flora, died soon after giving birth. Clarence Armstrong was mentally disabled (the result of a head injury at an early age) and Louis would spend the rest of his life taking care of him.[6] Louis's marriage to Parker failed quickly and they separated. She died shortly after the divorce.

Early Musical Influences & TrainingEdit

Cornet player Bunk Johnson said he taught Armstrong (then 11) to play the cornet by ear at Dago Tony's Tonk in New Orleans,[7] although in his later years Armstrong gave the credit to Oliver.
LouisArmstrong PeterDavis1

Armstrong with his first trumpet instructor, Peter Davis in 1965.

Armstrong developed his cornet playing seriously in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs.
Professor Peter Davis (who frequently appeared at the Home at the request of its administrator, Captain Joseph Jones)[8] instilled discipline in and provided musical training to the otherwise self-taught Armstrong.
Eventually, Davis made Armstrong the band leader. The Home band played around New Orleans and the thirteen year old Louis began to draw attention by his cornet playing, which launched his musical career.[9]


Early CareerEdit

Armstrong got his first dance hall job at Henry Ponce’s where Black Benny became his protector and guide. He hauled coal by day and played his cornet at night.

He played in the city's frequent brass band parades and listened to older musicians every chance he got, learning from Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, Kid Ory, and above all, Joe "King" Oliver, who acted as a mentor and father figure to the young musician.

Later, he played in the brass bands and riverboats of New Orleans, and began traveling with the well-regarded band of Fate Marable, which toured on a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River. He described his time with Marable as, "going to the University," since it gave him a much wider experience working with written arrangements.

In 1919, Joe Oliver decided to go north and resigned his position in Kid Ory's band; Armstrong replaced him. He also became second trumpet for the Tuxedo Brass Band, a society band.[10]

Through all his riverboat experience Armstrong’s musicianship began to mature and expand.

At twenty, he could read music and he started to be featured in extended trumpet solos, one of the first jazzmen to do this, injecting his own personality and style into his solo turns. He had learned how to create a unique sound and also started using singing and patter in his performances.[11] In 1922, Armstrong joined the exodus to Chicago, where he had been invited by his mentor, Joe "King" Oliver, to join his Creole Jazz Band and where he could make a sufficient income so that he no longer needed to supplement his music with day labor jobs. It was a boom time in Chicago and though race relations were poor, the “Windy City” was teeming with jobs for blacks, who were making good wages in factories and had plenty to spend on entertainment.

Oliver's band was the best and most influential hot jazz band in Chicago in the early 1920s, at a time when Chicago was the center of the jazz universe. Armstrong lived like a king in Chicago, in his own apartment with his own private bath (his first). Excited as he was to be in Chicago, he began his career-long pastime of writing nostalgic letters to friends in New Orleans. As Armstrong’s reputation grew, he was challenged to “cutting contests” by hornmen trying to displace the new phenom, who could blow two hundred high C’s in a row.[12] Armstrong made his first recordings on the Gennett and Okeh labels (jazz records were starting to boom across the country), including taking some solos and breaks, while playing second cornet in Oliver's band in 1923. At this time, he met Hoagy Carmichael (with whom he would collaborate later) who was introduced by friend Bix Beiderbecke, who now had his own Chicago band.

Armstrong enjoyed working with Oliver, but Louis's second wife, pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong, urged him to seek more prominent billing and develop his newer style away from the influence of Oliver. Armstrong took the advice of his wife and left Oliver's band. For a year Armstrong played in Fletcher Henderson's band in New York on many recordings. After playing in New York, Armstrong returned to Chicago, playing in large orchestras; there he created his most important early recordings.[13] Lil had her husband play classical music in church concerts to broaden his skill and improve his solo play and she prodded him into wearing more stylish attire to make him look sharp and to better offset his growing girth. Lil’s influence eventually undermined Armstrong’s relationship with his mentor, especially concerning his salary and additional moneys that Oliver held back from Armstrong and other band members. Armstrong and Oliver parted amicably in 1924. Shortly afterward, Armstrong received an invitation to go to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top African-American band of the day. Armstrong switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section. His influence upon Henderson's tenor sax soloist, Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period.

File:Hatter Sam Taft with Louis Armstrong.jpg

Armstrong quickly adapted to the more tightly controlled style of Henderson, playing trumpet and even experimenting with the trombone and the other members quickly took up Armstrong’s emotional, expressive pulse. Soon his act included singing and telling tales of New Orleans characters, especially preachers.[14] The Henderson Orchestra was playing in the best venues for white-only patrons, including the famed Roseland Ballroom, featuring the classy arrangements of Don Redman. Duke Ellington’s orchestra would go to Roseland to catch Armstrong’s performances and young hornmen around town tried in vain to outplay him, splitting their lips in their attempts.

During this time, Armstrong also made many recordings on the side, arranged by an old friend from New Orleans, pianist Clarence Williams; these included small jazz band sides with the Williams Blue Five (some of the best pairing Armstrong with one of Armstrong's few rivals in fiery technique and ideas, Sidney Bechet) and a series of accompaniments with blues singers, including Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter.

Armstrong returned to Chicago in 1925 due mostly to the urging of his wife, who wanted to pump up Armstrong’s career and income. He was content in New York but later would concede that she was right and that the Henderson Orchestra was limiting his artistic growth. In publicity, much to his chagrin, she billed him as “the World’s Greatest Trumpet Player”. At first he was actually a member of the Lil Hardin Armstrong Band and working for his wife.[15] He began recording under his own name for Okeh with his famous Hot Five and Hot Seven groups, producing hits such as "Potato Head Blues", "Muggles", (a reference to marijuana, for which Armstrong had a lifelong fondness), and "West End Blues", the music of which set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come.

The group included Kid Ory (trombone), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), wife Lil on piano, and usually no drummer. Armstrong’s bandleading style was easygoing, as St. Cyr noted, "One felt so relaxed working with him and he was very broad-minded ... always did his best to feature each individual."[16] His recordings soon after with pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines (most famously their 1928 Weatherbird duet) and Armstrong's trumpet introduction to "West End Blues" remain some of the most famous and influential improvisations in jazz history. Armstrong was now free to develop his personal style as he wished, which included a heavy dose of effervescent jive, such as "whip that thing, Miss Lil" and "Mr. Johnny Dodds, Aw, do that clarinet, boy!"[17]

Armstrong also played with Erskine Tate’s Little Symphony, actually a quintet, which played mostly at the Vendome Theatre. They furnished music for silent movies and live shows, including jazz versions of classical music, such as “Madame Butterfly,” which gave Armstrong experience with longer forms of music and with hosting before a large audience. He began to scat sing (improvised vocal jazz using non-sensical words) and was among the first to record it, on "Heebie Jeebies" in 1926. So popular was the recording the group became the most famous jazz band in the USA even though they as yet had not performed live to any great degree. Young musicians across the country, black and white, were turned on by Armstrong’s new type of jazz.[18]

After separating from Lil, Armstrong started to play at the Sunset Café for Al Capone's associate Joe Glaser in the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra, with Earl Hines on piano, which was soon renamed Louis Armstrong and his Stompers, though Hines was the music director and Glaser managed the orchestra. Hines and Armstrong became fast friends as well as successful collaborators.

Armstrong returned to New York, in 1929, where he played in the pit orchestra of the successful musical Hot Chocolate, an all-black revue written by Andy Razaf and pianist/composer Fats Waller. He also made a cameo appearance as a vocalist, regularly stealing the show with his rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'", his version of the song becoming his biggest selling record to date.[19]

Armstrong started to work at Connie's Inn in Harlem, chief rival to the Cotton Club, a venue for elaborately staged floor shows,[20] and a front for gangster Dutch Schultz. Armstrong also had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of famous songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael. His 1930s recordings took full advantage of the new RCA ribbon microphone, introduced in 1931, which imparted a characteristic warmth to vocals and immediately became an intrinsic part of the 'crooning' sound of artists like Bing Crosby. Armstrong's famous interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded, showcasing Armstrong's unique vocal sound and style and his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.

Armstrong's radical re-working of Sidney Arodin and Carmichael's "Lazy River" (recorded in 1931) encapsulated many features of his groundbreaking approach to melody and phrasing. The song begins with a brief trumpet solo, then the main melody is stated by sobbing horns, memorably punctuated by Armstrong's growling interjections at the end of each bar: "Yeah! ..."Uh-huh" ..."Sure" ... "Way down, way down." In the first verse, he ignores the notated melody entirely and sings as if playing a trumpet solo, pitching most of the first line on a single note and using strongly syncopated phrasing. In the second stanza he breaks into an almost fully improvised melody, which then evolves into a classic passage of Armstrong "scat singing".

As with his trumpet playing, Armstrong's vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gritty coloration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated. His scat singing style was enriched by his matchless experience as a trumpet soloist. His resonant, velvety lower-register tone and bubbling cadences on sides such as "Lazy River" exerted a huge influence on younger white singers such as Bing Crosby.

The Depression of the early Thirties was especially hard on the jazz scene. The Cotton Club closed in 1936 after a long downward spiral and many musicians stopped playing altogether as club dates evaporated. Bix Beiderbecke died and Fletcher Henderson’s band broke up. King Oliver made a few records but otherwise struggled. Sidney Bechet became a tailor and Kid Ory returned to New Orleans and raised chickens.[21] Armstrong moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to seek new opportunities. He played at the New Cotton Club in LA with Lionel Hampton on drums. The band drew the Hollywood crowd, which could still afford a lavish night life, while radio broadcasts from the club connected with younger audiences at home. Bing Crosby and many other celebrities were regulars at the club. In 1931, Armstrong appeared in his first movie, Ex-Flame. Armstrong was convicted of marijuana possession but received a suspended sentence. He returned to Chicago in late 1931 and played in bands more in the Guy Lombardo vein and he recorded more standards. When the mob insisted that he get out of town, Armstrong visited New Orleans, got a hero’s welcome and saw old friends. He sponsored a local baseball team known as “Armstrong’s Secret Nine” and got a cigar named after himself.[22] But soon he was on the road again and after a tour across the country shadowed by the mob, Armstrong decided to go to Europe to escape.

After returning to the States, he undertook several exhausting tours. His agent Johnny Collins’ erratic behavior and his own spending ways left Armstrong short of cash. Breach of contract violations plagued him. Finally, he hired Joe Glaser as his new manager, a tough mob-connected wheeler-dealer, who began to straighten out his legal mess, his mob troubles, and his debts. Armstrong also began to experience problems with his fingers and lips, which were aggravated by his unorthodox playing style. As a result he branched out, developing his vocal style and making his first theatrical appearances. He appeared in movies again, including Crosby's 1936 hit Pennies from Heaven. In 1937, Armstrong substituted for Rudy Vallee on the CBS radio network and became the first African American to host a sponsored, national broadcast.[23] He finally divorced Lil in 1938 and married longtime girlfriend Alpha.

After spending many years on the road, Armstrong settled permanently in Queens, New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille. Although subject to the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley and the gangster-ridden music business, as well as anti-black prejudice, he continued to develop his playing. He recorded Hoagy Carmichael's Rockin' Chair for Okeh Records.

During the subsequent thirty years, Armstrong played more than three hundred gigs a year. Bookings for big bands tapered off during the 1940s due to changes in public tastes: ballrooms closed, and there was competition from television and from other types of music becoming more popular than big band music. It became impossible under such circumstances to support and finance a 16-piece touring band.

The All StarsEdit

File:Louis Armstrong2.jpg

Following a highly successful small-group jazz concert at New York Town Hall on May 17, 1947, featuring Armstrong with trombonist/singer Jack Teagarden, Armstrong's manager Joe Glaser dissolved the Armstrong big band on August 13, 1947 and established a six-piece small group featuring Armstrong with (initially) Teagarden, Earl Hines and other top swing and dixieland musicians, most of them ex-big band leaders. The new group was announced at the opening of Billy Berg's Supper Club.

This group was called Louis Armstrong and his All Stars and included at various times Earl "Fatha" Hines, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Arvell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, Tyree Glenn, Barrett Deems and the Filipino-American percussionist, Danny Barcelona. During this period, Armstrong made many recordings and appeared in over thirty films. He was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time Magazine on February 21, 1949.

In 1964, he recorded his biggest-selling record, "Hello, Dolly!". The song went to #1 on the pop chart, making Armstrong (age 63) the oldest person to ever accomplish that feat. In the process, Armstrong dislodged The Beatles from the #1 position they had occupied for 14 consecutive weeks with three different songs.[24]

Armstrong kept up his busy tour schedule until a few years before his death in 1971. In his later years he would sometimes play some of his numerous gigs by rote, but other times would enliven the most mundane gig with his vigorous playing, often to the astonishment of his band. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under sponsorship of the US State Department with great success, earning the nickname "Ambassador Satch." While failing health restricted his schedule in his last years, within those limitations he continued playing until the day he died.

Social OrganizationsEdit

Louis Armstrong was not, as is often claimed, a Freemason. Although he is usually listed as being a member of Montgomery Lodge No. 18 (Prince Hall) in New York, no such lodge has ever existed. Armstong states in his autobiography, however, that he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, which is not a Masonic group.[25]


Armstrong died just after a heart attack on July 6, 1971, a month before his 70th birthday,[26] and 11 months after playing a show at the famous Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel .[27] He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his death.[28] He was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City.
His honorary pallbearers included Governor Rockefeller, Mayor Lindsay, Bing Crosby, Scatman John, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett and Bobby Hackett.[citation needed]
Peggy Lee sang The Lord's Prayer at the services while Al Hibbler sang "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and Fred Robbins, a long-time friend, gave the eulogy.[29]


Armstrong was a colorful character. His own biography vexes biographers and historians, because he had a habit of telling tales, particularly of his early childhood, when he was less scrutinized, and his embellishments of his history often lack consistency.

He was not only an entertainer. Armstrong was a leading personality of the day who was so beloved by a white-controlled America, that gave even the greatest African-American performers little access beyond their public celebrity, that he was able to privately live a life of access and privilege accorded to few other African-Americans.

He tried to remain politically neutral, which gave him a large part of that access, but often alienated him from members of the African-American community who looked to him to use his prominence with white America to become more of an outspoken figure during the Civil Rights Era of U.S. history.

Where do "Satchmo," "Pops" and Other Nicknames Come From?Edit


Louis Armstrong's nickname "Satchmo" stuck with the public, but musicians and family called him "Pops"

The nickname Satchmo or Satch is short for Satchelmouth. Like many things in Armstrong's life, which was filled with colorful stories both real and imagined, many of his own telling, the nickname has many possible origins.
The most common tale that biographers tell is the story of Armstrong as a young boy dancing for pennies in the streets of New Orleans. He would scoop up the coins off of the streets and stick them into his mouth to avoid having the bigger children steal them from him. Someone dubbed him "satchel mouth," after a common expression for a large bag or "satchel."
In 1932, Melody Maker magazine editor Percy Brooks greeted Armstrong in London with, "Hello, Satchmo!" and it stuck.
Early on he was also known as Dipper, short for Dippermouth, a reference to the piece Dippermouth Blues.[30] and something of a riff on his unusual embouchure.
As he became older and more of an institution than another musician, Armstrong was usually addressed by friends and fellow musicians as Pops, save in the company of Pops Foster, whom Armstrong always called "George."

Race and His Unique StatusEdit

Louis Armstrong was loved by people all over the world, but his status in the United States during the early to mid 20th century is something unique in American social culture.
Even the most dye-in-the-wool racist trying to avoid being called out as one would often cite Armstrong as a black man whom they liked. Armstrong was able to pass into white society, both on stage and off, a privilege reserved for very few African-American public figures, and usually those of either exceptional talent and fair skin-tone. As his fame grew, so did his access to the finer things in life usually denied to a black man, even a famous one. His renowned was such that he dined in the best restaurants and stayed in hotels usually exclusively for whites.
It was a power and privilege that he enjoyed, although he was very careful not to flaunt it with fellow performers of color, and privately, he shared what access that he could with friends and fellow musicians.
That still did not prevent members of the African-American commmunity, particularly in the late 1950s to the early 1970s, from calling him an Uncle Tom, a black-on-black racial epithet for someone who kowtowed to white society at the expense of their own racial identity.
He was criticized for accepting the title of "King of The Zulus" for Mardi Gras in 1949. In the New Orleans African-American community it is an honored role as the head of leading black Carnival Krewe, but bewildering or offensive to outsiders with their traditional costume of grass-skirts and blackface makeup satirizing southern white attitudes.
Whatever the case, where some saw a gregarious and outgoing personality, others saw someone trying too hard to appeal to white audiences and essentially becoming a minstrel caricature.
Some musicians criticized Armstrong for playing in front of segregated audiences, and for not taking a strong enough stand in the civil rights movement
Billie Holiday countered, however, "Of course Pops toms, but he toms from the heart." Her meaning was that Armstrong was a performer who had no animosity for audiences of any color in his public life, and he would not bring the political elements of race into his performing.
In spite of his perception by many in the African-American community as being weak on racial equality and social justice, Armstrong was anything but that. He was a major financial supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, even if he preferred to work quietly behind the scenes, not mixing his politics with his work as an entertainer.
The few exceptions made it more effective when he did speak out. Armstrong's criticism of President Eisenhower, calling him "two-faced" and "gutless" because of his inaction during the conflict over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 made national news.
As a protest, Armstrong canceled a planned tour of the Soviet Union on behalf of the State Department saying "The way they're treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell" and that he could not represent his government abroad when it was in conflict with its own people.[31]
The FBI kept a file on Armstrong, for his outspokenness about integration.[32]


When asked about his religion, Armstrong would answer that he was raised a Baptist, always wore a Star of David, and was friends with the Pope.[33] Armstrong wore the Star of David in honor of the Karnofsky family, who took him in as a child and lent him the money to buy his first cornet. Louis Armstrong was, in fact, baptized as a Catholic at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in New Orleans,[33] and he met popes Pius XII and Paul VI, though there is no evidence that he considered himself Catholic. Armstrong seems to have been tolerant towards various religions, but also found humor in them.


He was an extremely generous man, who was said to have given away as much money as he kept for himself. He performed often for a wide range of charities, and tried to give back for some of the huge fortune and fame that he amassed over his lifetime.

Personal HabitsEdit

Louis Armstrong had many interesting and unusual personal habits and interests.


Armstrong was also greatly concerned with his health and bodily functions. He made frequent use of laxatives as a means of controlling his weight, a practice he advocated both to personal acquaintances and in the diet plans he published under the title Lose Weight the Satchmo Way. Armstrong's laxative of preference in his younger days was Pluto Water, but he then became an enthusiastic convert when he discovered the herbal remedy Swiss Kriss. He would extol its virtues to anyone who would listen and pass out packets to everyone he encountered, including members of the British Royal Family. (Armstrong also appeared in humorous, albeit risqué, cards that he had printed to send out to friends; the cards bore a picture of him sitting on a toilet—as viewed through a keyhole—with the slogan "Satch says, 'Leave it all behind ya!'")[34] The cards have sometimes been incorrectly described as ads for Swiss Kriss.[35]
In a live recording of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Velma Middleton, he changes the lyric from "Put another record on while I pour" to "Take some Swiss Kriss while I pour." The line, slightly garbled in the live recording, could just as likely be "Take some Swiss Miss while I pour"—Swiss Miss is a hot chocolate mix that would have been fairly new on the market in 1951. (The line comes at 1:04 in the song.)[36]


The concern with his health and weight was balanced by his love of food, reflected in such songs as "Cheesecake," "Cornet Chop Suey,"[37] though "Struttin’ with Some Barbecue" was written about a fine-looking companion, not about food.[38] He kept a strong connection throughout his life to the cooking of New Orleans, always signing his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours..."[39]


Although Armstrong is not known to have fathered any children, he adopted his cousin's son, Clarence Armstrong, who had a brain injury that required care, which Louis paid for his whole life.
He loved children and would go out of his way to entertain the neighborhood kids in Corona and he would encourage young musicians.


Armstrong’s gregariousness extended to writing. On the road, he wrote constantly, sharing favorite themes of his life with correspondents around the world. He avidly typed or wrote on whatever stationery was at hand, recording instant takes on music, sex, food, childhood memories, his heavy “medicinal” marijuana use—and even his bowel movements, which he gleefully described.[40] He had a fondness for lewd jokes and dirty limericks as well.


  1. The TIME 100. Louis Armstrong. TIME, Stanley Crouch, June 8, 1998. "For many years it was thought that Armstrong was born in New Orleans on July 4, 1900, a perfect day for the man who wrote the musical Declaration of Independence for Americans of this century. But the estimable writer Gary Giddins discovered the birth certificate that proves Armstrong was born Aug. 4, 1901.." Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  2. When is Louis Armstrong's birthday? The Official Site of the Louis Armstrong House & Archives.
  3. Karnow, Stanley (February 21, 2001). "My Debt to Cousin Louis's Cornet". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2007. 
  4. Teachout, Terry. "Satchmo and the Jews" Commentary magazine, Nov. 2009.
  5. "The Karnofsky Project".
  6. "Satchuated" Gary Giddins, Village Voice April 16–22, 2003. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  7. Current Biography 1944, pp. 15–17.
  8. Current Biography 1944 p. 16.
  9. Bergreen, 1997, p. 78.
  10. Bergreen, 1997, p. 142.
  11. Bergreen, 1997, p. 170.
  12. Bergreen, 1997, p. 199.
  14. Bergreen, 1997, p. 247.
  15. Bergreen, 1997, p. 260.
  16. Bergreen, 1997, p. 274.
  17. Bergreen, 1997, p. 264.
  18. Bergreen, 1997, p. 267.
  19. "Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra". Retrieved August 17, 2009. 
  20. Morgenstern, Dan. “Louis Armstrong and the development & diffusion of Jazz”, Louis Armstrong a Cultural Legacy, Marc H Miller e.d., Queens Museum of Art in association with University of Washington Press, 1994 pg110
  21. Bergreen, 1997, p. 320.
  22. Bergreen, 1997, p. 344.
  23. Bergreen, 1997, p. 385.
  24. Hale, James (editor of, Danny Barcelona (1929–2007), Drums, Armstrong All-Star, The Last Post, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2007.
  25. "Non-masons - Louis Armstrong". Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  26. Meckna, Michael; Satchmo, The Louis Armstrong Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press, Connecticut & London, 2004.
  27. Bergreen, 1997, p. 491.
  28. Krebs, Albin. "Louis Armstrong, Jazz Trumpeter and Singer, Dies", The New York Times, July 7, 1971. Accessed October 1, 2009. "Louis Armstrong, the celebrated jazz trumpeter and singer, died in his sleep yesterday morning at his home in the Corona section of Queens."
  29. "Louis Armstrong Dies: 1971 Year in Review". December 28, 1971. Retrieved August 17, 2009. 
  30. Armstrong, 1954, pp. 27-28
  31. "Louis Armstrong, Barring Soviet Tour, Denounces Eisenhower and Gov. Faubus". New York Times. September 19, 1957. Retrieved August 30, 2007.  See also, from September 23, 2007, *David Margolick, The Day Louis Armstrong Made Noise.
  32. Bergreen, 1997, p. 472.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Template:Cite album-notes
  34. Gilstrap, Peter (February 29, 1996). "Leave It All Behind Ya". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved August 11, 2007. 
  35. Teachout, Terry (2009) Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong pp. 293–294.
  36. Louis Armstrong, "Christmas Through the Years," Laserlight 12744
  37. 'Red Beans and Ricely yours, Louis Armstrong.'
  38. Jive Dictionary, by Cab Calloway: "Barbecue (n.) -- the girl friend, a beauty." Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  39. Elie p. 327.
  40. Bergreen, 1997, p. 4.