Louis Armstrong (8/4/1901-7/6/1971) was born in New Orleans, into a dysfunctional family. It was when he was sent to a reform school for shooting a gun in the air on New Year’s Eve that he learned to play the cornet, according to Bio.
He rose to fame as a jazz artist in the 1920s. He recorded many records which became popular across music genres which included not only jazz but the popular music charts. He developed amazing technical abilities, which influenced other jazz performers.
“Satchmo” played in several bands. In 1925, he began making his own recordings, listing himself as bandleader of the “Hot Five,” the first of which were “My Heart” and “Cornet Chop Suey.” Louis Armstrong personally selected all the musicians to play with him. He recorded over 60 records with the Hot Five and the Hot Seven in just three years, from 1925-1928.
It has been said that he forgot the words to a song and started making random sounds, which resulted in his creating scat in 1926, with “Heebie Jeebies.” Other sources say that Armstrong claimed to have dropped the lyric sheet and improvised, creating scatting. Scatting was such a sensation that other popular singers of the day started incorporating scatting into their performances and records. 1926 was also the year that Armstrong switched from playing the cornet to playing trumpet.
Louis Armstrong became a huge success for his performance of “Ain’t Misbehavin'” while on tour with the musical “Hot Chocolate,” as explained by World History Project. Armstrong played and sang from the pit orchestra, but he was such a success that the script was actually re-written, having Armstrong performing on-stage, rather than the pit orchestra.
In the 1930s, the Father of Jazz began his movie career, starring opposite Bing Crosby in “Pennies from Heaven.” Armstrong played and sang his was across the world into the 1940s.
Big-band jazz and swing orchestras declined in the mid-40s but Louis Armstrong played on. His manager fired his entire orchestra and formed the Louis Armstrong All Stars. Armstrong played live with the All Stars throughout the rest of his career. Throughout the 1940s the All Stars toured around the world. The band became one of the most popular jazz bands of all time, even when other jazz bands were failing. He played a hugely- successful performance at New York City Town Hall concert in 1947. Armstrong and his band recorded some of his most popular hits in the 1940s and 1950s, including “Blueberry Hill” and many others. Armstrong began recording with Columbia Records in the 1950s. Louis Armstrong recorded his hugely popular “Mack the Knife” on Columbia.
Armstrong recorded hits not only throughout the 1940s and 50s after other jazz artists fell by the wayside; in 1963 Louis Armstrong released his hit recording “Hello Dolly.” He followed that hit in 1968 with the world-wide hit record, “What a Wonderful World,” a song that was incorporated into the movie, “Good Morning, Vietnam,” years after the death of Ambassador Armstrong.
Louis Armstrong faced many obstacles throughout much of his career but persevered through competition, racism and family problems to become recognized as a great jazz artist. He remained popular from the 1920s throughout the late 1960s.
Louis Armstrong died on July 6, 1971, but his music and fame lives on.