Louis Daniel Armstrong (4 August 1901 – 6 July 1971) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer and singer who became one of the pivotal and most influential figures in jazz music. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in jazz.
- The Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in ... Guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy and there was lots of plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn't faze me at all. I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.
- Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans (1954)
- Some of you young folks been saying to me, "Hey Pops, what you mean 'What a wonderful world'? How about all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful? And how about hunger and pollution? That aint so wonderful either." Well how about listening to old Pops for a minute. Seems to me, it aint the world that's so bad but what we're doin' to it. And all I'm saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we'd give it a chance. Love baby, love. That's the secret, yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we'd solve lots more problems. And then this world would be a gasser. That's wha' ol' Pops keeps saying.
- Spoken intro to "What a Wonderful World" (1970 version)
- The way they're treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.
- As quoted in The New York Times (19 September 1957)]
- Making money ain't nothing exciting to me. ... You might be able to buy a little better booze than some wino on the corner. But you get sick just like the next cat, and when you die you're just as graveyard dead as he is.
- If you still have to ask, shame on you
- Armstrong's response to the question what jazz is, cited by Max Jones et. al.: "Salute to Satchmo", I.P.C. Specialist & Professional Press Ltd 1970, page 25
- Often misquoted as "Man, if you gotta ask you'll never know." Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (third edition)
Quotes about Armstrong
- When you're sick [due to drug withdrawal], music is a great help. Once in Texas, I kicked a [heroin] habit on weed, a pint of paregoric, and a few Louis Armstrong records.
- William S. Burroughs, Junky (1953), Chapter 12
- He was the only musician who ever lived, who can't be replaced by someone.
- Bing Crosby, as quoted in The Big Band Almanac (1989) by Leo Walker, p. 12
- I like Louis! Anything he does is all right. I don't know about his statements, though. I can do without them.
- You know you can't play anything on a horn that Louis hasn't played — I mean even modern. … I love his approach to the trumpet; he never sounds bad. He plays on the beat and you can't miss when you play on the beat — with feeling. That's another phrase for swing.
- Miles Davis, to Nat Hentoff in 1958, as quoted in Milestones : The Music and Times of Miles Davis (1998) by Jack Chambers, p. 209
- Louis ... was marvelous to be with. He had tremendous warmth, appeal. And I idolized him, not only for how great he was singing and playing, but for himself. ... I used to get postcards from him [from] all over the world. ... He went to every accessible place in the world.
- He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.
- Duke Ellington, as quoted in The World of Jazz Trumpet : A Comprehensive History & Practical Philosophy (2005) by Scotty Barnhart, p. 23
- I knew Louis well, he had his crazy little habits. Everyone thinks he was a druggie, but he wasn't. After every concert, he would put on a stocking cap, then he'd have his bottle of Pluto water, orange juice, Serutan and a joint. This was his formula; in fact, he used to post the recipe on bulletin boards, calling it "The Road to Good Health."