Louis Armstrong, aka “Satchmo,” “Pops,” and “Ambassador Satch,” was a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. Born in 1901, the all-star jazz virtuoso came to prominence in the 20s, and on the way, influenced countless musicians with his daring trumpet playing and unique voice.
His charismatic stage presence happened to impress not only the jazz world but the entire music industry. Of his songs, including Star Dust and La Vie En Rose, his most beloved tune is, of course, What a Wonderful World. Here are some facts about the music genius’ early life…
Armstrong was born into poverty in New Orleans, and he was nicknamed “the Battlefield.” His father left the family when he was a child, and his teenaged mother was forced to make ends meet by resorting to prostitution.
Louis spent most of his childhood with his grandmother, but he also found a home with the Karnofskys, a local Lithuanian-Jewish family who took the kid on to do odd jobs for their family business. Armstrong later noted that the Karnofskys treated him as if he were their own child, giving him food and money to buy his first instrument, a $5 cornet.
Armstrong spent a lot of his youth singing on the street for pocket change, but he never received any musical training until he turned 11. It was then that he got arrested for firing a gun in the street during a New Year’s Eve celebration.
He was sent to a detention facility called the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys. Armstrong claimed that it was there when “me and music got married.” He spent his 18-month sentence playing the bugle and cornet with the resident music teacher, Peter Davis. In 1919, he got a breakthrough gig with a riverboat band led by musician Fate Marable.