When was Louis Armstrong Born?
Nicknamed “Satch,” “Satchmo,” and “Pops,” Louis Armstrong is easily one of the most well-known and beloved jazz musicians in the world.
Armstrong was born exactly 121 years ago—on August 4, 1901—in New Orleans. Abandoned by his father and raised by his grandmother until age 5, Armstrong unfortunately spent much of his youth living in poverty. However, he found a safe place in the home of a family of Lithuanian Jews for whom he worked, collecting rags, and delivering coal. The family knew that Armstrong lacked a father, so they took special care to feed and nurture him.
At age eleven, Armstrong dropped out of school and joined a street quartet of boys who sang for money. Eventually, he joined a band where he developed his cornet skills. Finally, in 1918, the future legend found his way to a riverboat where he played in a brass band, learned to read music, and began expanding his career.
Now that you know a bit about Armstrong’s origins and childhood, it’s time to take a look at a few of the most pivotal songs in his five-decade-long musicianship!
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band – Chimes Blues
Dating back to 1923, this is the very first recording that Louis Armstrong ever did! And even at such an early stage in his career, Armstrong was a groundbreaking as an inventive soloist. Just listen to his cornet solo in “Chimes Blues” to see what I’m talking about.
This tune represents the beginning of a foundational change in jazz—a shift in focus from collective musical improvisation to solo performance.
Louis Armstrong – Heebie Jeebies
Also recorded in Chicago, this 1926 tune is said to be the first example of scat singing in jazz history. What is scat singing you may ask? Well, it is improvised jazz singing, usually involving nonsensical syllables that replace lyrics and imitate the sound of an instrument.
Legend has it that Satch dropped a sheet of music while they were recording, so he just did his best to improvise and, in this way, accidentally invented a new style of jazz vocalization that became an instant sensation and inspired countless singers to come! Talk about impressive.
Louis Armstrong – Ain’t Misbehavin’
During a time of segregation, Armstrong was one of the first African American entertainers to “cross over,” meaning that he become popular among not only black audiences but also white and international crowds.
Armstrong performed this song with a band at a popular Harlem nightclub called Connie’s Inn in 1929. White audiences loved his unique style of singing and playing instruments, which led to Armstrong later performing with many popular white musicians. For example, he appeared in many films in the 1950s and 60s, such as High Society in which he played alongside Bing Crosby, Gracey Kelly, and Frank Sinatra.
We hope that you enjoyed this post and that it allowed you to celebrate Satchmo’s birthday!
Obviously, we at Night is Alive do not have any songs featuring Louis Armstrong, but we do have some snazzy tunes that have been inspired by the legacy of Louis Armstrong. A great example is “Hudson River Wind,” which is from our album Old New Borrowed & Blue, available in our store and on all major music platforms.
This blog post was written by Digital Marketing Manager Jacqueline Knirnschild.