As a Fellow at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives I get to see first hand the personal belongings of Louis and Lucille Armstrong. Since beginning my fellowship, I have been fascinated with the Armstrongs’ record collection. For my first curated collection of images on the Collections website , I selected a few images of the LPs from the Louis Armstrong Collection. This arrangement of photos is a snippet of the Armstrongs’ collection and each has been chosen to represent a portion of the Armstrongs’ life. Although it is not a complete example of the LPs the Armstrongs’ owned, I hope it serves as an introduction into their intimate lives.
The collection of LPs includes every genre: jazz, classical, pop and much more. Of course the most popular genre was jazz; Louis and Lucille’s lives were surrounded by it. The Armstrongs’ collection of jazz contains many of the top musicians and vocalists at the time such as Ella Fitzgerald, King Oliver and others. Some LPs are from foreign countries with people singing in different languages. Louis was a big fan of classical music and owned albums by Gershwin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc. One can imagine Louis sitting in his den or Lucille laying in bed listening to these records and taking in the music.
The most interesting records featured in the collection are the comedy albums. Many people have the idea that Louis was a refined gentleman, but he listened to comedians such as Moms Mabley and Red Foxx. This information may shock those who only know his public persona; in private Louis and Lucille were down home people who enjoyed a variety of entertainment. If Louis and Lucille were alive to day they would be listening to comedians like Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, and others. Louis himself wrote dirty jokes and kept track of the jokes he heard.
Louis and Lucille also owned many of Louis’ records. Louis and Lucille also owned many of Louis’ records and Louis often re recorded his own music, listening to it in his den while it copied onto reel to reel tape. In his reel tape recordings Louis often rerecords his own music and listened to it in his den. Louis’ love of his own music can be explained by his love of jazz and especially the trumpet. The LPs that are about Louis contain his most famous tracks and performances. These records reflect how dedicated Louis was to perfecting his craft and how much delight he took in music.
For the full collection of LPs you can visit the Collections website at https://collections.louisarmstronghouse.org/ and observe how the Armstrongs entertained and relaxed.