My Favourite Quotes

Other 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."

-Preston Jackson


"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 acclamations.

"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."

-Tommy Brookins


"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 feeling."

-Buster Bailey


"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."

-Muggsy Spanier


"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."

-Billie Holiday


"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"

-Rex Stewart


"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."

- Dizzy Gillespie


"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, including me."

- 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.

- Louis Metcalf


"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 scared.

"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 of us."

- Dizzy Gillespie

Louis says...

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em."

"The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the backyard on a hot night or something said long ago."

"A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original."

"Never play a thing the same way twice."

"Musicians don't retire; they stop when there's no more music in 'em"

What is jazz? "Baby if you don't already know, you're never gonna know the answer."