Louis Armstrong- The Time of Chicago

Louis Armstrong in 1952. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

One man, Daniel Louis Armstrong, gave many people from 1901 to 1971 the gift of music. His life was full of what he loved, and he had opportunities in music that nobody would think of doing at the time. Louis Armstrong had a style all his own. People from all backgrounds and colors loved him. It did not matter where a person came from or what language they spoke, people would come just to hear him play and sing. Armstrong knew how to please a crowd with what he had, and he always performed the best he could. He was given opportunities that took him far in his career as a trumpet player.

Louis Armstrong playing his trumpet while being presented with an award. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Louis Armstrong playing his trumpet while being presented with an award | Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

He left from New Orleans to Chicago in the year 1922. He arrived at the Chicago train station at about eleven o’clock at night.1 While in Chicago, Louis Armstrong went through many social situations that occurred in his time there. He went through the time of Prohibition, which gave rise to the illicit social environment in which jazz—and his career—flourished.2 This brought on challenges for any jazz player in Chicago during the time because of what was going on in the world. Many of those that would hire jazz players were hoodlums or quasi-hoodlums.3

Louis Armstrong was just getting used to being in Chicago, where he could do anything with his music because he had those opportunities. It took him time to embrace the Windy City fully because for Louis, this was unknown territory for him. Louis had taken their music out of its infancy and given it a powerful breath of new life and independence.4 He flourished in his style of jazz and created something much further than anyone could have thought. He could take any song and make it his own. His whole life he had a love for music, but during this time in Chicago he really started to show what he could do. After some time away from Chicago, he would come back as a solo act at the Regal Theater.5 Even though he had left Chicago for a time, he would always come back to experience the great joy that had brought him there in the first place.

He would do great things by himself, even though he always kept in contact with people he had played with before. He took time to be with his friends and family, playing whether it would be by himself or with bands that were with friends that he had made along the way. He accomplished many things in his lifetime, becoming one of America’s legendary musicians. He was very passionate about his music and he loved to please a crowd. He had a great life filled with many people that praised and loved him, helping him on his journey of being an amazing player.

  1. Laurence Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life (New York: Broadway Books, 1997), 175.
  2.  Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, 194.
  3. Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, 195.
  4. Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, 200.
  5. Terry Teachout, POPS: A Life of Louis Armstrong (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), 132.

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This Post Has 53 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I love Louis Armstrong’s music; one of my favorite songs is What a Wonderful World. He took a leap of faith and left New Orleans to pursue his career in Chicago during the prohibition period, where his career took off. Louis Armstrong was a fantastic Jazz musician that put his heart and soul into every performance; I admire his passion and love for music.

  2. Avatar

    I have never listened to Armstrong’s music, but I know he was very great at what he did Armstrong did something that was so remarkable in the early 1900’s. To leave his hometown Chicago to pursue his love for music is truly inspiring. He accomplished so much for chasing his dreams for what he was doing. Music is more then something that you just listen to, it’s a work of art that has meaning in it.

  3. Avatar

    Armstrong did something that was so remarkable in the early 1900’s. To leave his hometown Chicago to pursue his love for music is truly inspiring. He accomplished so much for chasing his dreams for what he was doing. Music is more then something that you just listen to, it’s a work of art that has meaning in it.

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