Louis Armstrong's Life

By ez1900
  • Louis Armstrong Is Born

    Louis Armstrong Is Born
    Born on August 4th in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mary (Mayann) and William Armstrong. He abandons the family during Louis’s infancy. Louis spends the first years of his life living with his paternal grandmother, Josephine Armstrong. After age five, Louis lives in a two room house near Liberty and Perdido Streets with his mother and sister. The family lives in stark poverty. Pictured is childhood Armstrong's house before its demolishment in the 60s, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • Arrest

    Fires a pistol in the street to celebrate New Year’s Eve. A nearby policeman arrests Louis and the next day he is confined to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys. While in the Waif’s Home, Louis receives musical instruction from the band director, Peter Davis, and eventually becomes leader of the Waif’s Home band. Pictured are students who are in the band, date unknown, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • Release from Waif's Home

    Release from Waif's Home
    Released from the Waif’s Home on June 16, 1914. Lives briefly with his father, William Armstrong, then returns to his mother. Joe Oliver, one of the finest trumpet players in New Orleans, becomes Louis’s teacher and mentor. Performs in New Orleans’s honky-tonks with local groups. Delivers coal and sells newspapers to help feed himself, his mother, and his sister. Pictured is the Colored Waif's Home in 1913 that Armstrong left, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • *Replacement of King Oliver in Kid Ory's Band

    *Replacement of King Oliver in Kid Ory's Band
    Joe Oliver moves to Chicago and Louis takes his place in the Kid Ory band, a leading group in New Orleans, and also performs occasionally with the Tuxedo Brass Band. Marries Daisy Parker, a prostitute from Gretna, Louisiana. During the summers, band leader Fate Marable hires Louis to perform on river boats that travel the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis. Joins the Tuxedo Brass Band, ledby Oscar “Papa” Celestin.” He is pictured, taken from Findagrave.
  • *Joins King Oliver in Chicago

    *Joins King Oliver in Chicago
    Moves to Chicago in August to play second cornet in the band of Joe Oliver, now nicknamed ”King“ Oliver. Pictured is the duo, with Armstrong standing, circa 1913, taken from Standford University.
  • First Recordings with Joe "King" Oliver

    First Recordings with Joe "King" Oliver
    Makes his first recordings at the Gennett Studios in Richmond, Indiana, as a member of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. The band also records for Paramount, Columbia and Okeh. Pictured is a t-shirt with the gold label of the record "Zulus Ball," taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • Marries Lil Hardin

    Marries Lil Hardin
    Marries Lil Hardin, the pianist in the King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band on February 5th. Moves to New York City in September to join the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom. Records with Henderson, with Sidney Bechet, and with several blues singers, including Sippie Wallace, Clara Smith, and Ma Rainey. Pictured is Lil Hardin, circa 1940, taken from Petard.
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    *Summer Engagements

    Performs with Erskine Tate at the Vendome Theatre. Continues to record with the Hot Five (and with the Hot Seven in May, 1927). Performs at the Sunset Café with the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. Meets Joe Glaser (who will later become Louis’s manager). Briefly leads a band, Louis Armstrong and His Stompers, at the Sunset Café.
  • First Recordings with Hot Five

    First Recordings with Hot Five
    Records with blues singer Bessie Smith, and Clarence Williams, among others. In November, quits Fletcher Henderson and returns to Chicago. Billed at the Dreamland Café as “The World’s Greatest Jazz Cornetist.” On November 12th, Louis makes his first recordings as a leader of his own group, Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five. Pictured is the group, circa 1925, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • Records "West End Blues"

    Records "West End Blues"
    Records “West End Blues” on June 28, 1928, which is today considered one of the most famous recordings in early jazz. Pictured is the plaque Armstrong received posthumously in 1974, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • Moves to New York City

    Moves to New York City
    Moves to New York City. Performs at Connie’s Inn with the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. Appears in the Broadway show, Hot Chocolates. Tommy Rockwell becomes Louis’s manager. Records “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.” Pictured is the record label of "Ain't Misbehavin'," taken from Eil.
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    *Travels to Europe

    Departs for England upon the S.S. Majestic on July 9th. Tours Great Britain for 3 months. Appears for 2 weeks at the London Palladium. Performs in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska. In July 1933, returns to England upon the S.S. Homeric. Tours Britain, Scandinavia, and Holland. Ten thousand people greet him at the railway station in Denmark. For much of 1934, Louis lives in Paris. Performs at La Salle Pleyel. Returns to the United States in January.
  • *Hires Manager Joe Glaser

    *Hires Manager Joe Glaser
    Joe Glaser becomes Louis’s manager (and remains Louis’s manager until his death in 1969). Appears at Connie’s Inn in New York City (the ensemble is billed as “Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra”) and the performances are nationally broadcast over CBS radio. Esquire runs a feature story on Louis. Pictured is Armstrong with Glaser, taken from Stanford University.
  • Debut in Movie Pennies from Heaven

    Debut in Movie Pennies from Heaven
    Portrays a band leader in the motion picture Pennies from Heaven with Bing Crosby. In the same year, records “Swing That Music” (which amazed audiences by Louis’s hitting forty-two high Cs followed by a high E-flat). Publication of Louis’s first autobiography, Swing That Music. Pictured is the poster for the movie, taken from IMDb.
  • Marries Lucille Wilson

    Marries Lucille Wilson
    Finalizes divorce from Alpha Smith on October 2nd, and marries Lucille Wilson on October 12th. Lucille purchases a house in Corona, Queens, New York City. Louis and Lucille live there for the remainder of their lives. Pictured is thec ouple, taken from the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
  • All Stars Debut

    All Stars Debut
    Breaks up the big band and forms a septet, Louis Armstrong and the All Stars. The All Stars debut at Billy Berg’s Club in Hollywood on August 13th. Pictured are members of the All Stars, taken from Jazz Lives.
  • Appears as King of the Zulus on Mardi Gras

    Appears as King of the Zulus on Mardi Gras
    Returns to New Orleans to be King of the Zulus at Mardi Gras. The same year, he performs in Switzerland, Italy, and France. Private audience with Pope Pius XII. Pictured is Armstrong (center), as King of the Zulus, taken from from The Aporetic.
  • Appears on Time Magazine Cover

    Appears on Time Magazine Cover
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    *Continued Tours and Recordings

    Appears on the Big Show (a hit radio variety show) with Tallulah Bankhead. Films Glory Alley. Has a hit with “Blueberry Hill.” Records with Louis Jordan and with Sy Oliver. Tours Canada, Hawaii, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Italy, and North Africa. Six-week concert tour with Benny Goodman cut short after Goodman becomes ill. Films The Glen Miller Story. Starts first tour of Japan in late December.
  • Cancels Trip to Russia

    Cancels Trip to Russia
    Speaks out strongly against racial injustice—especially the refusal of Little Rock, Arkansas, to integrate its schools—and cancels his U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Russia in protest. Pictured is a newspaper clipping reporting Armstrong's cancelation, taken from eBay.
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    *International Tours

    Makes a major tour of Africa (Cameroon, the Belgian Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and many more countries), as part of a four-month tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department and Pepsi-Cola. Films Paris Blues on location in Paris. Appears at the Newport Jazz Festival each July. Records ten selections with Duke Ellington in 1961, their only collaboration in the recording studio.
  • Louis Armstrong Day at World's Fair

    Louis Armstrong Day at World's Fair
    July 2 is declared “Louis Armstrong Day” at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, just blocks from Louis’s home. Pictured is the New York World's Fair Unisphere, taken from Loge13.
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    *Later Appearances

    Appears on the cover of Life magazine. Appears on The Dean Martin Show and The Danny Kaye Show.“What a Wonderful World” becomes a hit in Great Britain. Performs in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, and Mexico. Films a scene for the motion picture Hello Dolly with Barbara Streisand. Records Disney Songs the Satchmo Way. Private audience with Pope Paul VI. Out of respect for the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, refuses to appear at the Oscars and other entertainers follow his example.
  • Newport Jazz Festival Tribute to Armstrong

    Newport Jazz Festival Tribute to Armstrong
    The Newport Jazz Festival presents a tribute to Louis Armstrong featuring Mahalia Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hackett, and the Eureka Brass Band. Appears on many television shows, including: The Dick Cavett Show, The David Frost Sho, The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Flip Wilson Show. Performs for two weeks in Las Vegas. Pictured is Armstrong at the Festival in 1970.
  • Armstrong Dies

    Armstrong Dies
    Louis Armstrong passes away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Corona on July 6th. On July 8th more than 30,000 mourners solemnly file past his casket at the Seventh Regiment Armory. A funeral at the modest Corona Congregational Church the next day attracts thousands more than the church can hold. He is buried in Flushing Cemetery in Queens, just a few miles away from his home in Corona. Pictured is Armstrong, taken from Li Saltzman.