What A Wonderful World

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December 1, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Louis Armstrong was the influence behind the name of Louise ‘Lulu’ Onions.

We learnt of the struggle Louis had as an infant and child in the article ‘We Have All The Time In the World’ and his first steps into music.

Now we continue his story.

New Years Eve 1912 a young Louis Armstrong, not even a teenager, was arrested for firing a pistol during the celebrations – the following day he was sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys.  It was here that his talent for music was nurtured – up to this point it had been a passion but nothing more.  The school’s band director Peter Davis gave Louis his first real music tuition.

In 1914 he was released from the school and spent some time with his father before returning home to his mother and sister.

Louis returned to the streets around the bars continuing to bring money in for his family through odd-jobs.  But here the great trumpeter Joe Oliver discovered Louis and continued his musical tuition.  He started to perform in local honkey-tonks, joining the Kid Ory band and occasionally joining in with other brass bands and working the river steamboats.  He joined the Tuxedo Brass Band, working with Oscar Celestin.

In the 1920s Louis moved to Chicago and  rejoined with Joe Oliver, now nicknamed ‘King’.

His first recording opportunity came in 1923 as part of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band.  Just two years later he was back recording as the lead of his own group: Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five (which turned into the Hot Seven in 1927).

The 1920s and 30s saw Louis go from strength to strength, working with musicians such as Fletcher Henderson (whom he worked with after leaving Joe Oliver) and vocalists Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace and Ma Rainey.  The popularity increased during the 40s, 50s and 60s, with Louis performing with Billie Holliday, Ben Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington.

Much of his life was filled with tours.  He began touring extensively around America in the 20s and then Europe in the 30s spending much of his European leg living in Paris.  Louis even went to north Africa in 1952 and Japan in 1953, he travelled to South America and visited the Gold Coast.  The 60s also saw him tour extensively with a trip paid for by the US State Department and Pepsi-Cola: a four-month tour of Africa.

Louis also appeared on radio, television and in films – his film debut was in 1931 Ex-Flame.  He also wrote several books and for many publications – his first autobiography was printed in 1936.  Louis appeared on the front cover of Time and Life magazines.  Private performances include John F Kennedy in 1963 and Pope Paul VI in 1968.

July 6th 1971 the legendary Louis Armstrong died in his sleep.


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