Louis Armstrong Timeline:
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 4th 1901 to Mayanne and William Armstrong.
Louis and three other boys form a vocal quartet and perform on street corners for tips. The Karnofskys, a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, hires Louis to work on their junk wagon. Louis purchases his first cornet with money loaned to him by the Karnofskys.
31 Dec. 1912
Fires a pistol in the street to celebrate New Year's Eve. A nearby policeman arrests Louis and the next day he is confined to the Colored Waif's Home for Boys.
While in the Waif's Home, Louis receives musical instruction from the band director, Peter Davis, and eventually becomes leader of the Waif's Home band.
Released from the Waif's Home (16 June 1914). Lives briefly with his father, William Armstrong, then returns to his mother. Joe Oliver, one of the finest trumpet players in New Orleans, becomes Louis's teacher and mentor. Performs in New Orleans's honky-tonks with local groups. Delivers coal and sells newspapers to help feed himself, his mother, and his sister.
Marries Daisy Parker, a prostitute from Gretna, Louisiana. Joe Oliver moves to Chicago and Louis takes his place in the Kid Ory band, a leading group in New Orleans.
Bandleader Fate Marable hires Louis to perform on river boats that traveled the Mississippi.
Moves to Chicago to play second cornet in the band of Joe Oliver, now nicknamed "King Oliver." Separates from Daisy.
5 April 1923
Makes his first recordings at the Gennett Studios in Richmond, Indiana, as a member of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
Marries Lil Hardin, the pianist in the King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
In September, moves to New York City to join the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom. Makes first recordings with Henderson. Records with Sidney Bechet. Records with blues singers, including Sippie Wallace and Clara Smith.
Records with blues singer Bessie Smith. Records with Clarence Williams. In November, quits Fletcher Henderson and returns to Chicago.
12 Nov. 1925
Makes his first recordings as a leader with his own group, Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.
Performs with Erskine Tate at the Vendome Theatre. Continues to record with the Hot Five. Performs at the Sunset Cafe with the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. Meets Joe Glaser (who will later become Louis's manager). Briefly leads a band, Louis Armstrong and His Stompers, at the Sunset Café. Records "West End Blues" (28 June 1928) which becomes one of the most famous recordings in early jazz.
Moves to New York City. Performs at Connie's Inn with the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra. Appears in the broadway show, Hot Chocolates. Tommy Rockwell becomes Louis's manager.
Performs in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Appears at Frank Sebastian's Cotton Club in California. Records "Blue Yodel Number 9" with Jimmie Rodgers (the "Father of Country Music").
Separates from Lil Hardin (August). Appears in his first film, Ex- Flame. Johnny Collins becomes Louis's manager. Extensive tour of midwest and south. First records "When It's Sleepytime Down South," which becomes Louis's theme song.
Travels to London upon the SS Majestic . Tours great Britain for three months (July - November).
Performs in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska. In July 1933, returns to London. Tours Britain, Denmark, Norway, and Holland. Ten thousand people greet him at the railway station in Denmark. For much of 1934, lives in Paris.
Returns to the United States (January). Joe Glaser becomes Louis's manager (and remains Louis's manager until his death in 1969). Appears at Connie's Inn in New York City.
Portrays a bandleader in the motion picture Pennies from Heaven with Bing Crosby. Records "Swing That Music" (which amazed audiences by Louis's hitting forty-two high Cs followed by a high E-flat). Publication of Louis's autobiography, Swing That Music (which, unfortunately, is heavily edited by the publisher).
Hosts the Fleischmann's Yeast Show, a national network radio program. Appears in the motion picture Artists and Models. Films Everyday's a Holiday with Mae West.
In October, marries Alpha Smith. Performs throughout deep south, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Performs in hometown New Orleans. Films Going Places.
Portrays Bottom in the musical Swingin' the Dream , a jazz version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream .
Records with the Mills Brothers. Performs in Florida, Mississippi, Albama, Georgia, South Carolina, Chicago, Canada. Marries Lucille Wilson (12 October 1942).
Lucille purchases a house in Corona, Queens, New York City. Louis and Lucille live there for the remainder of their lives.
Appears in motion pictures Atlantic City , Pillow to Post, and New Orleans. Records with Billie Holiday. First Esquire All American Jazz Concert at the Metropolitan Opera House (1944).
Performs at Carnegie Hall with a small group and his big band. Appears at Town Hall (New York City) with a small group. Breaks up the big band and forms a septet, "Louis Armstrong and the All Stars." The All Stars debut at Billy Berg's Club in Hollywood on 13 August 1947.
Appears at the Nice Jazz Festival, the first international jazz festival.
Performs in Switzerland and Italy. Appears on The Big Show (television) with Tallulah Bankhead. Films Glory Alley. Records with Louis Jordan and with Sy Oliver.
Tours Canada, Colorado, Hawaii, Germany, and Belgium.
Six week concert tour with Benny Goodman cut short after Goodman becomes ill. Films The Glen Miller Story. First tour of Japan.
Publishes a second autobiography Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, which covers his life only up until 1922. Tours Australia and Japan. Records Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography for Decca Records. Records Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy for Columbia Records.
Performs in Los Angeles and in New Orleans. Performs in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy. Appears on the Ed Sullivan Show. Records "Mack the Knife" for Columbia Records. Records Satch Plays Fats (an album of compositions by Fats Waller) for Columbia Records.
Appears in the motion picture High Society with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. First tour of Africa. Performs for 100,000 at the polo grounds in Accra. Edward R. Murrow makes the documentary Satchmo the Great. Tours Australia and Japan. Records with Ella Fitzgerald for Verve Records.
Tours South America and Europe. Speaks out strongly against racial injustice--especially the refusal of Little Rock, Arkansas, to integrate its schools--and cancels his tour of Russia in protest. Records with Ella Fitzgerald for Verve Records.
Louis's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival is captured in the motion picture Jazz on a Summer's Day. Appears twice on the Timex Show (NBC television). Films The Five Pennies with Danny Kaye. Films The Beat Generation.
Performs in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. Has heart attack in Spoleto, Italy and is briefly hospitalized. Appears on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Bing Crosby Oldsmobile show.
Makes second tour of Africa. Films Paris Blues on location in Paris. Appears at the Newport Jazz Festival each July (1960-1963). Records ten selections with Duke Ellington, their only collaboration in the recording studio (1961). Performs for President John F. Kennedy (1963).
"Hello Dolly" becomes number one hit. Performs in Las Vegas. Tours Puerto Rico. Appears as mystery guest on television show, What's My Line?.
Tour of eastern Europe. Given the "Key to the City" of New Orleans. Enjoys sold-out performances in Montreal, Toronto, and Las Vegas. Films When the Boys Meet the Girls and A Man Called Adam. Broadcasts over Voice of America from the Monterey Jazz Festival. Appears oin television shows, The Dean Martin Show and Shindig.
Performs the summer season (July - Sept.) at Jones Beach Marine Theatre in Long Island. Appears on The Dean Martin Show and the Danny Kaye Show.
Performs in Dublin, Antibes, St. Tropez, and Majorca. Appears on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Kraft Music Hall show and the Jackie Gleason Show. Appears on Operation Entertainment, a television broadcast from Fort Hood (the US Army's largest base, located in Killeen, Texas). Records "What a Wonderful World" for ABC Records.
"What a Wonderful World" becomes a hit in Great Britain. Performs in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, and Mexico. Films scene for motion picture Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand. Records Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.
From February to April is in Beth Israel Hospital due to heart problems. Joe Glaser (Louis's manager since 1935) dies. Travels to London and records soundtrack for On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
The Newport Jazz Festival presents a tribute to Louis Armstrong featuring Mahalia Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hackett, and the Eureka Brass Band. Appears on many television shows, including: Dick Cavett Show, David Frost Show, the Tonight Show, and the Flip Wilson Show.
Appears on many television shows, including the David Frost Show, the Dick Cavett Show, the Tonight Show, and a television special with Pearl Bailey. Records the poem "The Night Before Christmas" in the den of his Corona home. (It becomes his last commercial recording.) Performs for two weeks in the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.
6 July 1971
Passes away in his sleep at his home in Corona
Bio & photo courtesy of The Verve Music Group