I got a simple view about everybody. If you don’t treat me right – shame on you
Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong has been described as the most important and influential musician in jazz history. A trumpeter, singer and composer, his virtuoso career spanned from the 1920s to the 1960s – continuing after a heart attack in 1959, as he explained: “Musicians don't retire; they stop when there's no more music in them.” After he returned to health, he had a major hit with Hello Dolly.
Born in New Orleans and brought up in a poor neighbourhood known as The Battlefield he did odd-jobs after leaving school aged 11, calling up trade by blowing a tin horn, and later learning to play the trumpet by ear. By age 13, he was a player of note and was earning a living as a jazz band musician by his early 20s.
By the 1940s he was an accomplished soloist, radio star and recording artist living in New York and playing hundreds of gigs a year. A charismatic man who was not politically outspoken, Armstrong did step up to speak out, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The jazz great had played a series of concerts against doctors orders when he suffered another heart attack in 1971 and, not long out of hospital he was rehearsing again and intent on further shows. But it was not to be, as just a few weeks later, he died in his sleep.
Music legends Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie were among the honorary pallbearers at the funeral of the King of Jazz.