By Charlie Ver Beek
On August 4, 1901, Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. It really was a rough life, he lived in a section so poor that they called it, "The Battlefield". He basically lived with his grandmother, his father left them at a young age and his mother was a prostitute. Armstrong had to leave school at fifth grade to earn money. A Jewish family gave him a job collecting junk and delivering coal, and they also encouraged him to sing. He was arrested at 11 for firing his grandfathers gun into the air at a party and was sent to Colored Waifs's home for boys. Here he received instruction on the cornet and his path becomes clear, he falls in love with music. He kept up with his jobs and became one of the finest blues players in the town. Joe Oliver then became his mentor and sometimes used him as a sub in performance. Armstrong married at age 17 to a prostitute named Daisy parker. He adopted his cousins son who was injured mentally from a head injury, putting stress on his career. Now he has to provide for his family. His band became the most popular band in New Orleans, he started to focus full time on his cornet. He spent his summers on the riverboats with a band led by Fate Marable and here he encounters jazz legends, now he is a big time musician.
This is a poster ad for one of his performances.
He always carried around a handkerchief because he had a major sweating problem.
Louis Armstrong didn't always do the trumpet, he played the cornet before that.
Music and Career
Louis hits it big when in 1922 he is invited to Chicago from His tutor, King Oliver and join his band as second cornet. That next year he was recorded for the first time on his solo on "Chimes Blues". He fell in love with the Pianist of the group, Lillian Hardin. They married that year. This was actually very important to his career, she convinced him to quit the group and join Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. His presence became known and the band became what is considered as the first big jazz band. There was always something missing with him though, his upbeat playing didn't go with the band and they didn't let him sing because they feared his voice was too raspy for their sophisticated environment. He quit the band in 1925. He released dozens of records with other great musicians such as Sidney Bechet. He also backed some blue singers. The next big step in his career came next. OKeh records in Chicago let him release records from 1925 - 1928 Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five won the hearts of america through music. He made more than 60 records with the hot five and the hot seven. He recorded for dozens of silent films throughout the 20's. in 1926 Armstrong finally switched to the trumpet while performing with Erskine Tate's Orchestra. In 1928 A Pittsburg Pianist named Fatha Hines partnered with Louis assimilating his music into the piano. Together they made "Weather Bird" and "West End Blues". He started to record other songs that weren't jazz, opening him up to the entire world of music. By 1932 he was world famous. He appeared in movies, toured around the world, and became a worldwide hit. In 1933 on a European tour when he got into a fight with his manager who already got him into trouble with an american mob. He was left stranded overseas and decided to spend 1934 relaxing in Europe. He returned to Chicago with no band and he was sewed by his ex - wife. He turned to a man named Joe Glaser who had mob ties to combat those who Louis was already associated with, closely knew the infamous Al Capone. Within a few months, his trust was wort while, he had a new band and a record deal for Decca Records.
Louis Armstrong and his hot five are known as the most important and influential jazz group in history. His brilliance and unusual skills turned jazz into a soloist's art, you can actually say that he transformed jazz. His daring tunes and high notes influenced young artists across the country. Small groups popped up all over america and began to sing like Louis, he was a revolution. he proved to the world that music was a fine art, that it was fun, that everyone should have it. He also started recording some popular songs of the time such as "Star Dust" and "Body and Soul." These completely changed the view of music in the eyes of the century. He inspired dozens of famous artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Bing Crosby. He changed the way america thought of music and has a lasting impact on the american art of music.
This was one of his most famous pieces, when used in the movie Hello Dolly as the opening song, he was awarded the grammy for best vocal performance. It was inducted into the grammy hall of fame in 2001. For this reason it remains one of his greatest and most remembered songs in history.
Michael Jackson had it easier than Louis Armstrong, he didn't have to deal with all of the segregation, he was black, but he lived in an easy era. For starters to compare them, they were both black singers. It was becoming more and more common but these two were ones that only come every once in a while, a big hit. they were influential to our society, they changed they way we see music. They saw music as an art, and they crafted their art so that it could be enjoyed, they turned the saddest of songs into an upbeat masterpiece. They just had a way do make something america could smile at. They also see eye to eye at death, they moved america, they devastated, america. After lifes of inspiration and joy, their deaths took america by surprise.