What is Louis Armstrong’s birthday? For most (if not all) of Louis Armstrong’s life, the jazz trumpeter claimed to have been born on July 4, 1900.
It was almost two decades after Armstrong passed away that a different truth about his birth was discovered. Someone looking at the baptismal records of a Catholic church in New Orleans found that Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, the son of “a handsome” nineteen-year-old William (Willie) Armstrong and Mary Ann Albert, who was known as May Ann. Willie worked in a chemical factory. May Ann was a fifteen-year-old who worked as a domestic servant, having moved to the city from the nearby countryside to find work.
Did Louis Armstrong know his true birthday? It seems unlikely, but why did he then pick July 4, 1900, apart from the obvious patriotic connection and the fact that 1900 sounds a whole lot more interesting than 1901? Or was that enough?
Today when you search the internet, you will find both days given as his birthday. For a long time, Wikipedia carried the July 4, 1900 date. Whatever the correct date, we do know that young Louis grew up at 723 Jane Alley, a stones throw from the French Quarter of New Orleans, an area that was central to the birth of jazz, a vibrant, buzzing area that was so instrumental in shaping his life and career.