Louis Armstrong has been the subject of countless biographies and music histories. Yet scant attention has been paid to the remarkable array of writings he left behind. Louis Armstrong: In His Own Words introduces readers to a little-known facet of this master trumpeter, band leader, and entertainer. Based on extensive research through the Armstrong archives, this important volume includes some of his earliest letters, personal correspondence with one of his first biographers in 1943-44, autobiographical writings, magazine articles, and essays. Here are Armstrong's own thoughts on his life and career-from poverty in New Orleans to playing in the famous cafes, cabarets, and saloons of Storyville, from his big break in 1922 with the King Oliver band to his storming of New York, from his breaking of color barriers in Hollywood to the infamous King of the Zulus incident in 1949, and finally, to his last days in Queens, New York. Along the way Armstrong recorded touching portraits of his times and offered candid, often controversial, opinions about racism, marijuana, bebop, and other jazz artists such as Jelly Roll Morton and Coleman Hawkins.
Indeed, these writings provide a balanced portrait of his life as a musician, entertainer, civil rights activist, and cultural icon. Armstrong's idiosyncratic use of language and punctuation have been preserved to give the reader an unvarnished portrayal of this compelling artist. This volume also includes introductions to the writings, as well as an annotated index of names and places significant to Armstrong's life.