Pioneering jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was born today (August 4, 1901).
Although it is often reported that Louis Armstrong was born on July 4, the discovery of baptismal records state that the pioneer was born today.
He was born in an area known as “Back of Town (Uptown),” a.k.a. “The Battlefield.”
“In that one block between Gravier and Perdido Streets more people were crowded than you ever saw in your life,” Louis Armstrong wrote in his memoirs “Satchmo.”
“There were church people, gamblers, hustlers, cheap pimps, thieves, prostitutes and lots of children.
“There were bars, honky-tonks and saloons, and lots of women walking the streets for tricks to take to their ‘pads,’ as they called their rooms.”,” Louis Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s father abandoned the family when he was a child, while his mother, a prostitute named Mary “MayAnn” Albert, left Louis and his younger sister, with his grandmother for a period of time.
After dropping out of the Fisk School for Boys where he learned music, Louis Armstrong fell in with a group of boys on the streets, who sang for money.
It was during this time that Louis Armstrong learned to play the coronet, taking cues from from legendary New Orleans Jazz figure “King” Joe Oliver.
“No one in jazz is created as much music as he has. Almost everything important the music came from him. That is why they caught him ‘King,’ and he deserves the title,”Armstrong said. “Musicians from all over the world used to come hear Joe Oliver when he was playing at the Lincoln Gardens in Chicago, and he never failed to thrilled them.”
After being sentenced to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs for shooting his father’s gun in the air, Louis Armstrong began taking his coronet playing serious, at the tender age of 14.
Louis Armstrong used his coronet and later most famouskybthe trumpet, to lift him out of poverty.
Armstrong started by playing funeral marches with New Orleans brass bands, while taking in the sounds of artists like Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory.
In 1922, Louis Armstrong was one of the millions of blacks who left the South for Chicago, which was bustling with factory jobs.
It was here that Louis “Dippermouth” Armstrong began a legendary career with King Joe Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band.
Louis Armstrong recalled the first time he set foot into the Lincoln Gardens, which was located at 31st and Cottage Grove Avenues.
He described how he felt when he was about to sit in with “King” Joe Oliver’s band for the first time.
“I was a little shaky about going inside. For a moment I wondered if I should. Then, too, I started wondering if I could hold my own with such a fine band. But I went in any way, and the further in I got, the hotter the band got,” Armstrong reminisced.
Louis Armstrong’s recording career ended up lasting for over five decades.
He wrote two autobiographies, 10 magazine articles and appeared in over 30 films.