My Favourite Quotes
musicians talking about Louis
"Why! I thought
they'd blow the roof off the place for dead sure, especially after
Louis Armstrong joined the band.
"I'll never forget
the day he came into town (about 1920 or 1921). He wore a brown
box-back coat, straw hat, and tan shoes. We called him Dippermouth.
Satchmo was unheard of then. Well, Louis played a horn like nobody
had ever heard. He and Joe were wonderful together. I had heard Louis
play before in 1915 at a playground dedication when the Jones Waif
Band featured Louis and Henry Rena. Louis was terrific even then. I
was going to the school where the playground was. That's how I
happened to hear him."
"On that evening when
he was sick, Oliver played as a member of the ensemble but let Louis
solo, and believe me, Louis really played, showing everyone present
all he knew, all his tricks, and he received after each song great
"One can say that
from that time on there was a question only of Louis. The school kids
began to imitate the acts of "Satchmo." Hearing Louis after Oliver it
seemed that Louis was more powerful."
"What made Louis
upset Chicago so? His execution, for one thing, and his ideas, his
drive. Well they didn't call it drive, they called it "attack" at
that time. Yes, that's what it was, man. They got crazy for his
"I mean, after all,
how can you help loving a guy that makes the world smile and a happy
place like Louis does? If he couldn't sing or blow a note, he'd still
be worth his weight in laughs."
"He didn't say any
words, but somehow it just moved me so. It sounded so sad and sweet,
all at the same time. It sounded like he was making love to me.
That's how I wanted to sing."
"We had never heard
anyone improvise that way - the brilliance and boldness of his ideas,
the fantastic way he developed them, the deepness of his swing, and
that gloriously full, clear sound. It was stunning! I went mad with
the rest of the musicians. I tried to walk like him, talk like him,
eat like him, sleep like him. I even bought a pair of big policeman
shoes like he used to wear and I stood outside his apartment waiting
for him to come out so I could look at him. Finally, I got to shake
hands and talk with him"
"If it hadn't been
for him, there wouldn't have been none of us. I want to thank Mr.
Louis Armstrong for my livelihood."
"Louis has been
through all kinds of styles. You know you can't play anything on a
horn that Louis hasn't played."
- Miles Davis
"He started out like
a new book, building and building, chorus after chorus, and finally
reaching a full climax-right, clean, clear. The rhythm was rocking,
and he had that sound going along with it. Everybody was standing up,
- Roy Eldridge
"You just wondered
where a guy like that had come from."
- Dicky Wells
"it was a real thrill
for me, because Louis coming out of New Orleans and me from St.Louis
were both of the same style, and he was backin' up everything I had
been trying to tell - only he made them understand.
"One particular night
in my memory the Gala was held at 129th and Lenox. When a tall,
distinguished man, closely followed by a short, heavy-set, widely
smiling young man were escorted to a ringside table, and the air was
electric with whispers. That's Fletcher Anderson and Louis Armstrong!
I looked, gulped, and almost swallowed my mouthpiece. Louis
Armstrong! Then panic struck and I told Elmer Snowden, who had the
band, that I was sick and had to go home. He just grinned and said,
"You'll stay right here and blow that horn." Boy, but I was
"I didn't think I
would ever see my idol from a distance much less sit in the same room
and blow while he was watching me, so I replied, "No, I'm sick and
I've gotta go." But when I started to get up, Elmer cuffed me, so I
sat down and started to try. The guys in the band kept encouraging me
and I took chorus after chorus. I guess the whole ordeal stimulated
something unusual because after the number Louis came over and asked
my name and congratulated me while I almost passed out. The Great Man
had actually spoken to me!
- Rex Stewart
"Louis Armstrong's station in the history of
jazz is unimpeachable. If it weren't for him, there wouldn't be any
- Dizzy Gillespie