Louis Armstrong maintained until his death that he was born on July 4, 1900 in New Orleans, although music historians have since shed doubt on that assertation. His father worked in a turpentine plant, and his mother was a "domestic". His grand parents had been slaves.
Armstrong celebrated New Years at the age of 13 by firing a .38 pistol. This landed him in the Colored Waifs' Home for Boys in 1913, and it was here that he learned to play the bugle. He tried several instruments while at the reform school, found he was drawn to the coronet, and became leader of the school band even though he was self taught.
In 1924 he expanded his style away from traditional New Orleans Jazz, and switched to the trumpet because of the brighter sound and flashier appearance.
A dynamic performer, Armstrong was able to move jazz from an ensemble form to a solo art. He is credited with inventing scat (supposedly because he dropped his sheet music).
Louis Armstrong made more then 35 films, including "High Society" and "Hello Dolly". Classic songs include "West End Blues", "Hello Dolly", "St. James Infirmary" and "When the Saints go Marching In"
Armstrong died on July 6, 1971 in New York City.