Louis Armstrong was the first vital jazz soloist to attain world wide influence as trumpeter, entertainer, and show business personality. He was a strong force in spreading the influence of jazz throughout his life. Through his trumpet solos and vocal interpretations alike, jazz fans immortalize him. His Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings done in the mid 1920s had no parallel in jazz. He is also a well-recognized Pop music figure by his personable and throaty, charming and guttural jazz vocals.
A common misconception about this legend is his date of birth; Louis Armstrong was born August 4th, 1901. For many years the public believed Armstrong to have been born on the Fourth Of July in 1900. The story, a fabrication created by crafty public relations men, made good print. Although he went along with the stunt, his influence in jazz, still being felt today, would be just as far reaching if he had laid claim to being born on "Groundhog Day."
Armstrong had what many, today, would refer to as a traumatic or dysfunctional childhood. Out of this environment was born a desire to succeed, be admired, and make people happy. Louis learned at an early age that music could lead to fame and money. He and his friends would sing for nickels and pennies on the streets of his native New Orleans and he saw how popular the musicians who played the funeral and celebratory parades were with the public. On New Year's Eve 1913, just 12 years old, Armstrong was caught firing a gun into the air and sentenced to a boys home for waifs. It was here under the tutelage of Peter Davis, who ran the home, that Armstrong learned how to play the cornet and he was soon playing picnics and parades. Later in life Louis returned year after year to the same waifs home to spread his joy to whoever was housed there. He never forgot Peter Davis or the kids.
rmstrong was a colorful character. His own biography vexes biographers and historians, because he had a habit of telling tales, particularly of his early childhood, when he was less scrutinized, and his embellishments of his history often lack consistency.
He was not only an entertainer. Armstrong was a leading personality of the day who was so beloved by America that gave even the greatest African American performers little access beyond their public celebrity, that he was able to live privately a life of access and privilege accorded to few other African Americans.
He tried to remain politically neutral, which gave him a large part of that access, but often alienated him from members of the black community who looked to him to use his prominence with white America to become more of an outspoken figure during the Civil Rights Era of U.S. history.
The nicknames Satchmo and Satch are short for Satchelmouth. Like many things in Armstrong's life, which was filled with colorful stories both real and imagined, many of his own telling, the nickname has many possible origins.
The most common tale that biographers tell is the story of Armstrong as a young boy dancing for pennies in the streets of New Orleans, who would scoop up the coins off of the streets and stick them into his mouth to avoid having the bigger children steal them from him. Someone dubbed him "satchel mouth" for his mouth acting as a satchel. Another tale is that because of his large mouth, he was nicknamed "satchel mouth" which became shortened to Satchmo.
Early on he was also known as Dipper, short for Dippermouth, a reference to the piece Dippermouth Blues. and something of a riff on his unusual embouchure.
The nickname Pops came from Armstrong's own tendency to forget people's names and simply call them "pops" instead. The nickname was soon turned on Armstrong himself. It was used as the title of a 2010 biography of Armstrong by Terry Teachout.