Louis Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong, born August 4, 1901, was an American trumpeter whose career spanned five decades. He is one of the most influential figures in jazz music. Armstrong had a unique tone and a talent for melodic improvisation. His contribution to jazz music transformed it from a collectively improvised folk music to a serious art form. Join us as we tell you more about this music legend.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Louis Armstrong

Nickname:

Pops

Birth date:

August 4, 1901

Death date:

July 6, 1971 (age 69)

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

5' 5"

Net Worth:

$10 million

Louis's Social Media:

Background

Louis Daniel Armstrong was born to Mary Albert and William Armstrong. Shortly after his birth, William abandoned the family leaving Louis to be raised by his grandmother. When he was five, he went to live with his mother where he attended the Fisk School for Boys. Two years later, the Karnoffskys took him in as family and cared for him.

When Louis was 11, he dropped out of school and moved to Perdido Street with his mother, Lucy, and Tom lee. In 1912, Armstrong was arrested for firing a blank into the air and sentenced to detention at the Colored Waif’s Home. When he left the detention center, Armstrong joined a group of boys who sang in the streets for money. There, he developed his cornet skills and met Peter Davis who became his first teacher.

On June 14, 1914, Armstrong went to live with his father and his stepmother, Gertrude. He stayed in the household for several months until Gertrude gave birth to a daughter. Armstrong felt he wasn’t welcomed in the family, so he returned to his mother. There he found a job at a dancehall owned by Henry Ponce. Armstrong played in brass bands in the coming years. In 1918, he traveled with the band of Fate Marable. Louis described his time with the Marable as “going to university” since it gave him experience in working with written arrangements. By the 1950s, Louis was a well-known icon who had built an international audience.

Career timeline

1918
His Experience With the Fate Marable

Armstrong travels with the Fate Marable band and gains experience working with written arrangements.

1923
His First Studio Recording

Armstrong records with Oliver for Gennett Records on April 5, 1923.

1964
He Releases His Highest Selling Record

Armstrong records his highest-selling record, ‘Hello Dolly’.

1968
His Last Performance

Armstrong makes his last recorded trumpet performance on his album, ‘Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.’

Why We Love Louis Armstrong

  1. He helped put Jazz on the world stage

    Armstrong gave the world a taste of American jazz. His innovative solos contributed to the growth of the music.

  2. Armstrong revolutionalized the sound of the jazz trumpet

    He originated the sound of the Jazz vocal. He inspired the entire world and revolutionalized the sound of the jazz trumpet.

  3. He had a welcoming smile

    Armstrong endured humiliation as a black man in America. However, he refused to give up his smile.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. The Karnofskys bought him his first instrument

    His adopted family treated Armstrong as one of their own, even loaning him money to buy his first instrument.

  2. He was arrested for weed possession

    Armstrong loved smoking weed and was once arrested for smoking a joint outside the Cotton Club in California.

  3. He gave the wrong birthday date

    Armstrong claimed that he’d been born on July 4, 1900, but his actual birth date was August 4, 1901.

  4. He had a Star of David pendant

    Armstrong wore this pendant to honor the Karnofskys, a Jewish family that took him in as one of their own.

  5. He was first arrested at age 11

    Armstrong was arrested for firing a pistol in the streets.

Louis Armstrong FAQs

How old was Louis Armstrong when he died?

He was 69 years old.

Was Louis Armstrong married?

Louis was married to four women over the course of his lifetime.

Was Armstrong a smoker?

Louis started smoking marijuana in the mid-1920s and smoked it all his life.

Louis Armstrong’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 4Thursday
2023August 4Friday
2024August 4Sunday
2025August 4Monday
2026August 4Tuesday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.