The Life of Louis Armstrong

Topics: Louis Armstrong, Jazz, Blues Pages: 7 (2736 words) Published: March 19, 2006
The Life of Louis Armstrong

He was known as the greatest of all jazz musicians. He defined what it really was to play genuine jazz music and taught the world to swing. He included joy, spontaneity, and amazing technical abilities. Louis Armstrong was a genius when it came to his inventive musical ability. In this paper, I will tell you about who Armstrong was, his early childhood, accomplishments, and his living legacy.

Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana which is famously known as the birth place of jazz. Armstrong was born into a very poor family in a rough area in New Orleans. His father was a factory worker who abandoned the family soon after Armstrong was born. Consequently, he was raised by his mother and grandmother. He worked by singing on street corners for pennies, cleaning graves for tips, selling coal, and working on a junk wagon all to support his family at a very young age. Despite his unstable childhood, Armstrong expressed an early interest in music. He found someone to help him buy a cornet and taught himself to play. After firing a gun into the air at a New Year's Eve celebration, Armstrong was labeled as a delinquent and was sent to a reform school called Colored Waif's Home for Boys. While he was there, he studied music and played the cornet and bugle in the school band. After showing so much interest and perfecting his skills, he became the leader of the band. When he was released from reform school, he worked and struggled to establish himself as a musician. Armstrong listened and learned from older musicians such as, Bunk Johnson and Buddy Petit. The person who had the greatest influence on him however, was Joe "King" Oliver. He was served as a mentor and great father figure for Armstrong. Armstrong caught his attention by for playing funerals and parades around town, while also performing with pick-up bands in small clubs. Louis later began to play in the brass bands, and riverboats of New Orleans. He then started traveling with a widely known band called ‘Fate Marable' which toured on the Mississippi river. Working with this band gave him a lot of experience working with written arrangements. After Joe Oliver left town in 1919, Armstrong took his place in the Kid Ory band and was well known as the top hot jazz band in the city. ( In 1918, when Louis Armstrong was eighteen, he met a local prostitute who soon after became his first wife, her name was Daisy Parker. Her as the working girl, and him as the customer, at a place in New Orleans called The Brick House, was how and where they first met. Their marriage was passionate but also very turbulent. Armstrong claimed that Daisy was a very jealous wife with a violent temper, and according to others she went back to "her old trade" as a prostitute even after the marriage. Six years was how long their marriage lasted, ending in 1924. Supposedly Louis Armstrong was said to have no children, but after reading his own autobiography "My Life in New Orleans" he writes that in 1921 Daisy adopted a little girl named Wila Mae Wilson. He continues to say that Wila Mae was 13 years old at the time and that one year later in 1922 she "married a boy named Sibley and had a son she called Archie." Armstrong refers to himself as Wila Mae's godfather, and also said that when Archie got older he learned to play the trumpet and changed his name to Archie Armstrong. (Armstrong, 222, 223) In 1922, Armstrong moved to Chicago to be apart of Oliver's band. It was here that he made his first recordings as a member of the group. While playing in Oliver's band, he met Lil Harden. She was a pianist and arranger for the band. In 1924, he married this very intelligent and ambitious woman. She encouraged him to leave the band to join the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in New York. He briefly worked with Ollie Powers' Harmony Syncopators before he went to play in New York for 13...

Bibliography: Alexander, Scott. "Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (1901-1971)." A History of Jazz Before 1930. 7 Dec. 2005 .
Armstrong, Louis. My Life in New Orleans. New York: Da Capo P, 1986.
Giddins, Gary. Satchmo. New York: Da Capo P, 1998.
Johnson, Scott. "The Twilight Years." Louis Armstrong Discoraphy. 1999. 7 Dec. 2005 .
"Louis Armstrong." Wikipedia. 11 Dec. 2005. 7 Dec. 2005 .
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