Louis Armstrong

Biography

For more information on Satchmo, click here for the official web site of the  Louis Armstrong House and Archives in Queens, NY

Louis Armstrong Timeline:

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 4th 1901 to Mayanne and William Armstrong.

Circa 1907

Louis and three other boys form a vocal quartet and perform on street corners for tips. The Karnofskys, a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, hires Louis to work on their junk wagon. Louis purchases his first cornet with money loaned to him by the Karnofskys.

31 Dec. 1912

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.

1913-1914

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.

1914-1917

Released from the Waif's Home (16 June 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.

1918

Marries Daisy Parker, a prostitute from Gretna, Louisiana. Joe Oliver moves to Chicago and Louis takes his place in the Kid Ory band, a leading group in New Orleans.

May 1919

Bandleader Fate Marable hires Louis to perform on river boats that traveled the Mississippi.

August 1922

Moves to Chicago to play second cornet in the band of Joe Oliver, now nicknamed "King Oliver." Separates from Daisy.

5 April 1923

Makes his first recordings at the Gennett Studios in Richmond, Indiana, as a member of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.

Feb. 1924

Marries Lil Hardin, the pianist in the King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.

1924

In September, moves to New York City to join the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom. Makes first recordings with Henderson. Records with Sidney Bechet. Records with blues singers, including Sippie Wallace and Clara Smith.

1925

Records with blues singer Bessie Smith. Records with Clarence Williams. In November, quits Fletcher Henderson and returns to Chicago.

12 Nov. 1925

Makes his first recordings as a leader with his own group, Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.

1925-1928

Performs with Erskine Tate at the Vendome Theatre. Continues to record with the Hot Five. Performs at the Sunset Cafe 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. Records "West End Blues" (28 June 1928) which becomes one of the most famous recordings in early jazz.

1929

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.

1930

Performs in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Appears at Frank Sebastian's Cotton Club in California. Records "Blue Yodel Number 9" with Jimmie Rodgers (the "Father of Country Music").

1931

Separates from Lil Hardin (August). Appears in his first film, Ex- Flame. Johnny Collins becomes Louis's manager. Extensive tour of midwest and south. First records "When It's Sleepytime Down South," which becomes Louis's theme song.

1932

Travels to London upon the SS Majestic . Tours great Britain for three months (July - November).

1933-1934

Performs in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska. In July 1933, returns to London. Tours Britain, Denmark, Norway, and Holland. Ten thousand people greet him at the railway station in Denmark. For much of 1934, lives in Paris.

1935

Returns to the United States (January). 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.

1936

Portrays a bandleader in the motion picture Pennies from Heaven with Bing Crosby. 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 autobiography, Swing That Music (which, unfortunately, is heavily edited by the publisher).

1937

Hosts the Fleischmann's Yeast Show, a national network radio program. Appears in the motion picture Artists and Models. Films Everyday's a Holiday with Mae West.

1938

In October, marries Alpha Smith. Performs throughout deep south, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Performs in hometown New Orleans. Films Going Places.

1939

Portrays Bottom in the musical Swingin' the Dream , a jazz version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream .

1940-1942

Records with the Mills Brothers. Performs in Florida, Mississippi, Albama, Georgia, South Carolina, Chicago, Canada. Marries Lucille Wilson (12 October 1942).

1943

Lucille purchases a house in Corona, Queens, New York City. Louis and Lucille live there for the remainder of their lives.

1944-1946

Appears in motion pictures Atlantic City , Pillow to Post, and New Orleans. Records with Billie Holiday. First Esquire All American Jazz Concert at the Metropolitan Opera House (1944).

1947

Performs at Carnegie Hall with a small group and his big band. Appears at Town Hall (New York City) with a small group. 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 13 August 1947.

1948

Appears at the Nice Jazz Festival, the first international jazz festival.

1949-1951

Performs in Switzerland and Italy. Appears on The Big Show (television) with Tallulah Bankhead. Films Glory Alley. Records with Louis Jordan and with Sy Oliver.

1952

Tours Canada, Colorado, Hawaii, Germany, and Belgium.

1953

Six week concert tour with Benny Goodman cut short after Goodman becomes ill. Films The Glen Miller Story. First tour of Japan.

1954

Publishes a second autobiography Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, which covers his life only up until 1922. Tours Australia and Japan. Records Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography for Decca Records. Records Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy for Columbia Records.

1955

Performs in Los Angeles and in New Orleans. Performs in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy. Appears on the Ed Sullivan Show. Records "Mack the Knife" for Columbia Records. Records Satch Plays Fats (an album of compositions by Fats Waller) for Columbia Records.

1956

Appears in the motion picture High Society with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. First tour of Africa. Performs for 100,000 at the polo grounds in Accra. Edward R. Murrow makes the documentary Satchmo the Great. Tours Australia and Japan. Records with Ella Fitzgerald for Verve Records.

1957

Tours South America and Europe. Speaks out strongly against racial injustice--especially the refusal of Little Rock, Arkansas, to integrate its schools--and cancels his tour of Russia in protest. Records with Ella Fitzgerald for Verve Records.

1958

Louis's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival is captured in the motion picture Jazz on a Summer's Day. Appears twice on the Timex Show (NBC television). Films The Five Pennies with Danny Kaye. Films The Beat Generation.

1959

Performs in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. Has heart attack in Spoleto, Italy and is briefly hospitalized. Appears on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Bing Crosby Oldsmobile show.

1960-1963

Makes second tour of Africa. Films Paris Blues on location in Paris. Appears at the Newport Jazz Festival each July (1960-1963). Records ten selections with Duke Ellington, their only collaboration in the recording studio (1961). Performs for President John F. Kennedy (1963).

1964

"Hello Dolly" becomes number one hit. Performs in Las Vegas. Tours Puerto Rico. Appears as mystery guest on television show, What's My Line?.

1965

Tour of eastern Europe. Given the "Key to the City" of New Orleans. Enjoys sold-out performances in Montreal, Toronto, and Las Vegas. Films When the Boys Meet the Girls and A Man Called Adam. Broadcasts over Voice of America from the Monterey Jazz Festival. Appears oin television shows, The Dean Martin Show and Shindig.

1966

Performs the summer season (July - Sept.) at Jones Beach Marine Theatre in Long Island. Appears on The Dean Martin Show and the Danny Kaye Show.

1967

Performs in Dublin, Antibes, St. Tropez, and Majorca. Appears on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Kraft Music Hall show and the Jackie Gleason Show. Appears on Operation Entertainment, a television broadcast from Fort Hood (the US Army's largest base, located in Killeen, Texas). Records "What a Wonderful World" for ABC Records.

1968

"What a Wonderful World" becomes a hit in Great Britain. Performs in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, and Mexico. Films scene for motion picture Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand. Records Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.

1969

From February to April is in Beth Israel Hospital due to heart problems. Joe Glaser (Louis's manager since 1935) dies. Travels to London and records soundtrack for On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

1970

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: Dick Cavett Show, David Frost Show, the Tonight Show, and the Flip Wilson Show.

1971

Appears on many television shows, including the David Frost Show, the Dick Cavett Show, the Tonight Show, and a television special with Pearl Bailey. Records the poem "The Night Before Christmas" in the den of his Corona home. (It becomes his last commercial recording.) Performs for two weeks in the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

6 July 1971

Passes away in his sleep at his home in Corona