20 Quotes by Louis Armstrong

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Portrait of Louis Armstrong, between 1938 and 1948.
Photo: William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress/Getty Images

Louis Armstrong loved to talk. He gave great interviews, wrote his own autobiography and taped himself talking on music, his life, smoking marajuana, New Orleans, and just about any subject that took his fancy. We’ve pulled together 20 of his best quotes that tell you a lot about his life, but even more about the man.

1.“I was born in what they called the poor man’s Storyville. But it was always the Red Light District, or just District, to me. And will be in my memory the rest of my life. The District never closed. There were actions going on at all times – somewhere or another. Just think – during the twenty four hours you could hear most of the top notch musicians.””

2. “When I married Daisy (my first wife) she was a prostitute from across the river. Many times she and I went to jail from fighting in the streets, and my boss would have to come and get me out.”

3. “The first time I left NewOrleans I went to St Louis with Fate’s band on the boat and to my surprise – we were the first colored band to play with the Streckfus Steamers.”

4. “[There was] lots of dough flying around, all kinds of beautiful women at your service. A musician in Chicago in the early twenties were treated and respected just like – some kind of God.”

5. “Joe Glaser could realize I could play with white boys! You know? And play for white people. When I first signed for him he didn’t just book me in colored dances.”

6.“For many years I blew my brains out. Hitting notes so high they hurt a dog’s ears. Joe Glaser told me ‘Play and sing pretty. Give the people a show.’”

7. “I was making dough ever since I was a teenager playing with Fate Marable on the riverboats. So even if I start making a million bucks a day it won’t make me try to be something different.”

8. “What do I want to get famous for? What do I care about famous? The public does that. That ain’t me man. I just blow. I don’t care who I’m playing for or where I’m playing. My mind never leaves that tailgate.”

9. “I come out of a part of the South where it ain’t no way in the world you can forget you’re colored.”

10. “Pops, my motto is ‘Eat Good, Stay Healthy and Don’t Worry About Being Rich’”

11. “ I don’t want a million dollars. With a lot of musicians money made a fool out of them. They forget about the life they love, standing on the bandstand. I’m not looking to be up on a high pedestal. I’m just appreciating what I’m dong. I think all I can do is play the way I feel.”

12. “The Pope was such a fine little old fellow. So he says, ‘Have you any children’. And I say, ‘No, Daddy, but we’re working on it.”

13. “I am so happy at the age of fifty – still blowing my little Satchmo trumpet, still enjoying the fine things in life, still love everybody and everybody still loves me and from one end of the world to the other, to me, everybody’s just one big happy family.”

14. “When I pick up that horn. . .the world’s behind me, and I don’t concentrate

15. “It’s like calling Tchaikovsky a bum because his piano concerto sounds the same way each time you hear it.”

16. “You know, some times I sit around the house and think about all the places me and Lucille have been. You name the country and we’ve just about been there.”

17. “I’ve gone on with bad colds, high temperatures and bruised chops. Sometimes you have to play when your lips are so tender, you feel there’s pins in them.”

18. “I think I had a beautiful life. I didn’t wish for anything I couldn’t get, and I got pretty near everything I wanted because I worked for it. I don’t keep nothing that I can’t use right now, so everything I have I’m still enjoying it.

19. “It’s been hard goddam work, man. Feel like I spent 20,000 years on the planes and railroads, like I blowed my chops off. Sure, pops, I like the ovation, but when I’m low, beat down, wonder if maybe I hadn’t of been better off staying home in New Orleans.”

20. “I never tried to prove nothing, just always wanted to give a good show. My life has been my music, it’s always come first, but the music ain’t worth nothing if you can’t lay it on the public. The main thing is to live for that audience, ’cause what you’re there for is to please the people.”

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. Andy Dreamy Day

    April 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    One of the ultimate music greats talking about his life and times.

  2. George Brand

    July 5, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Good to read all these great thoughts some of which I am sure I enjoyed before!!

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