b. 1901 New Orleans, LA
d. 1971 Corona, Queens, NY
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He learned how to play the cornet at the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys after being arrested on December 31, 1912. He dedicated himself to mastering the cornet and became one of the most in-demand musicians in New Orleans. He left his hometown in 1922 for Chicago, joining his mentor King Oliver’s band that summer and making his first recordings the following year. His “Hot Five” and “Hot Seven” recordings of the mid-1920s are known the most influential recordings in the history of jazz.
Armstrong had equal influence as a trumpeter, perfecting the art of the improvised solo, as he did as a vocalist, where he popularized “scat” singing. He began making movies in the 1930s and later became a fixture on radio and television. Beloved around the world, Armstrong became known as “America’s Ambassador of Goodwill.” He had hit records in every decade of his career, including “Blueberry Hill,” “Mack the Knife,” “ Hello Dolly!” and “What a Wonderful World.” He passed away on July 4, 1971. Today, his home is a National Historic Landmark and the site of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.