Louis Armstrong Photography

Louis Armstrong

From the 1920s to the ’60s, Louis Armstrong—or “Satchmo”—was among the most interesting, innovative, and unforgettable figures in jazz. This trumpet and cornet player, composer, vocalist, and sometimes actor was revered just as much for his improvisational playing style as his one-of-a-kind gravelly singing (and occasionally scatting) voice.

Perhaps the greatest example of his strengths came on the landmark recording “What a Wonderful World” in 1967, though his vast repertoire also includes such familiar gems as “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” But more significant than any particular song or sound was Armstrong’s unique ability to be one of the very first black artists to ever cross over into the mainstream.

Armstrong was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award a year after his passing from a heart attack in 1971. He’s also enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and practically every other musical institution for which he qualifies, while his vast influence on jazz through this very day is incalculable.

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