Louis Armstrong Dies
Armstrong died just after a heart attack on July 6, 1971, a month before his 70th birthday, and 11 months after playing a famous show at the Waldorf-Astoria's Empire Room.
Shortly before his death he stated, "I think I had a beautiful life. I didn't wish for anything that I couldn't get and I got pretty near everything I wanted because I worked for it." He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his death. He was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City.
His honorary pallbearers included Governor Rockefeller, Mayor Lindsay, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett and Bobby Hackett.
Peggy Lee sang The Lord's Prayer at the services while Al Hibbler sang Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen and Fred Robbins, a long time friend, gave the eulogy.
Louis Armstrong, the celebrated jazz trumpeter and singer, died in his sleep yesterday morning at his home in the Corona section of Queens. He had observed his 71st birthday Sunday.
Death was attributed to a heart attack. Mr. Armstrong had been at home since mid-June, when he was discharged from Beth Israel Medical Center after 10 weeks of treatment for heart, live and kidney disorders. He seemed in good health during an interview June 23, in which he played his trumpet and announced his intention to return to public performances.
President Nixon released this statement:
"Mrs. Nixon and I share the sorrow of millions of Americans at the death of Louis Armstrong. One of the architects of an American art form, a free and individual spirit, and an artist of worldwide fame, his great talents and magnificent spirit added richness and pleasure to all our lives."
Tributes to Mr. Armstrong also came from a number of leading musicians, including Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Al Hirt, Earl (Father) Hines, Tyree Glenn and Eddie Condon.
Mr. Ellington commented: "If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original."
"He could play a trumpet like nobody else," Mr. Condon said, "then put it down and sing a song like no one else could."
Mr. Hines, who frequently said he had taken his piano style from Mr. Armstrong's trumpet style, remarked: "We were almost like brothers. I'm so heartbroken over this. The world has lost a champion."
In Washington, the State Department, noting that Mr. Armstrong had toured Africa, the Middle East and Latin America on its behalf, said:
"His memory will be enshrined in the archives of effective international communications. The Department of State, for which he traveled on tours to almost every corner of the globe, mourns the passing of this great American."
The entertainer's final appearance was last February, when he played a two-week engagement at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Last month, noting that his legs were weak from his hospitalization, he said, "I'm going back to work when my treaders get in as good shape as my chops."
Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack on July 6, 1971, at age 69.
The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable.
As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation.
Armstrong is considered to have essentially invented jazz singing.
Armstrong appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films (though few of particular note), usually playing a band leader or musician. Louis Armstrong has a record star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 7601 Hollywood Boulevard.
Many of Armstrong's recordings remain popular. All too often, however, Armstrong recorded with stiff, standard orchestras leaving only his sublime trumpet playing as of interest. "Melancholy Blues," performed by Armstrong and his Hot Seven was included on the Voyager Golden Record sent into outer space to represent one of the greatest achievements of humanity.
Armstrong set up a non-profit foundation for educating disadvantaged children in music, and bequeathed his house and substantial archives of writings, books, recordings, and memorabilia to the City University of New York's Queens College, to take effect after his and his wife Lucille's death. The Louis Armstrong archives have been available to music researchers, and his home at 34-56 107th Street (between 34th and 35th Avenues), was opened to the public as a museum on October 15, 2003.
Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, a self-described Armstrong admirer, asserted that a 1952 Louis Armstrong concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris played a significant role in inspiring him to create the fictional creatures called Cronopios that are the subject of a number of Cortázar's short stories. Cortázar onced called Louis Armstrong himself "Grandísimo Cronopio" (Most Enormous Cronopio).