Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong

Trumpet icon Trumpet

Age Icon

July 6, 1971 (Age 69) died

Birthday Icon

August 4, 1901 Birthday

Birthplace Icon

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. Birthplace

Social Icon


Shows Icon



Louis Armstrong was a jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader and one of the most influential artists in jazz history. He began his career playing in the big bands of King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson. In 1925 he began recording with his own group, the Armstrong Hot Five and Hot Seven. These recordings, which featured intense swing, innovative solos, and scat singing drove jazz in a new direction. When the popularity of swing began to decline in the 1940s, Armstrong put together a smaller group called the All-Stars which toured extensively. Armstrong is considered one of the top entertainers of the 20th century. In addition to his recordings, Armstrong toured the world extensively, appeared in dozens of Hollywood movies, hosted his own national radio show and served as a musical ambassador for the US government. His vocals on hits such as "What a Wonderful World" and " Hello Dolly" are instantly recognizable still popular today. After a long career, Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack in 1971 at the age of 69.


Louis Armstrong's nickname, "Satchmo" was short for Satchel Mouth. Louis Armstrong often played so forcefully that his lips split open. In 1952 Louis Armstrong was the first person to be honored in the Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame and in 1972 he was awarded a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Early Life

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans in 1901. He had a difficult childhood. His father left soon after he was born and Armstrong was raised by his mother and grandmother. He was forced to leave school after the 5th grade to begin working to help his family. The Jewish family he worked for took him under their wing and helped him to buy his first cornet which he taught himself to play. At age 11 Armstrong was arrested and sent to reform school for firing a gun into the air on New Year's Eve. There he received formal music instruction and played in the school band. When he was released from the program in 1914 he began pursuing a career in music. The New Orleans cornetist King Oliver began mentoring Armstrong and when Oliver moved to Chicago in 1918 Armstrong took over his position in the Kid Ory Band. In 1922 Armstrong followed King Oliver to Chicago where he took a position in Oliver's band.