Louis Armstrong's Influential Career


Louis Armstrong's Influential Career
Louis Armstrong was the most successful and talented jazz musician in history. His influence and expansive career continues to make waves in the jazz world. That is what made him become what he is to many today ? a legend.
Born on August 4, 1901, in the poorest section of New Orleans, Armstrong grew up with his grandparents due to his parents' separation. On January 1, 1913 he made a mistake which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. At a New Year's celebration in downtown New Orleans, Louis Armstrong, also known as ?Satchmo? and ?Satch?, fired a pistol into the air and was placed in the Colored Waifs' Home. It was there that he was introduced to Peter Davis ? the brass band leader who taught him how to play the cornet (Brown 17). Soon after he began playing, Armstrong was made leader of the band ? something he was extremely proud of.
In June of 1914, Armstrong was free to leave the Waifs' Home. He was hired by various cabarets throughout the city, as well as for picnics, dances, and funerals. It was at one of these places that he was spotted by the famous Joe ?King' Oliver. King Oliver found Armstrong stand-in slots at orchestras and other venues. In 1918, he was offered the vacant seat left by Oliver in the band the Brown Skinned Babies. Kid Ory, leader of the band, once said that after Louis joined them he, ??improved so fast it was amazing. He had a wonderful ear and a wonderful memory. All you had to do was hum or whistle a new tune to him and he'd know it right away? (Boujut 21). At the end of 1918 Armstrong married Daisy Parker, a prostitute he had met at a dance hall that he played on Saturday nights. The marriage ended only four years later due to her beating him regularly (Bergreen 87).
Louis Armstrong was hired in May of 1919 to play on a riverboat that traveled the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis. Armstrong soon became very popular in St. Louis and was in high demand (Collier 124). Two and a half years later, he was thrown off the riverboat and fired due to a fight. After returning to New Orleans, he received a telegram from King Oliver in Chicago. It was an invitation to join The Creole Jazz Band ? an offer Armstrong couldn't refuse. The Jazz Band cut it's first record in the spring of 1923 and toured throughout Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana (Hadlock 64).
A year later Armstrong married Lil Hardin, the pianist in the band. He soon grew tired of playing in Chicago and left Oliver's band to head for New York City. When Armstrong reached the City and began playing everyone went wild. No where had they ever heard anything like him. Before this time, he had only played instruments but he was soon encouraged to begin singing. It was then discovered that Armstrong had a natural extension of his trumpet abilities, which was singing. His gravelly voice was something new that had never been heard (Sadie 600).
Armstrong formed a studio band in 1925 called the Hot Five. The band included Johnny Dodds, Kid Ory, John St. Cyr, Lil Armstrong, and himself. These recordings were some of the most famous made by Armstrong, including ?Mandy Make Up Your Mind? and ?Money Blues? (Bergreen 96). A year later the Hot Five made their only public appearance at the Chicago Coliseum. The Chicago Defender spoke of ?Louis Armstrong, the miracle with steel lips,? (Boujut 27).
For the next few years Armstrong recorded with the Hot Five and played with other musicians in New York and Chicago. He then traveled to California, in July of 1930, where he starred in his first film, Flame. Only after he had been in California for a few weeks he was arrested at a nightclub for the possession of marijuana. The incident obviously caused a lot of controversy across the world. The sentence, six months in prison, was suspended after only three days. Mainly due to Armstrong's addiction to marijuana, Lil separated from him and they no longer