Category Archives: “Satchmo”

In the Vault: Louis Armstrong Interview


Louis Armstrong loved performing and we all enjoyed his jazz music

immensely. He was a grandson of slaves, raised by various family

members, and led a troubled young life. He “beat the odds” and was

socially acceptable in the higher echelons of circles in his adult life

due to his talent while playing his trumpet, cornet or singing with his

famous ‘gravelly’ voice. One of his last informal interviews was with

some 13 and 14 year olds who “dared” to catch him alone and ask him

to let them talk to him.

There were three youngsters in New Orleans who were brass band

players. Their names were not given but this is a taped interview that

was released, considered kept “In the Vault.”

I imagine that it means that it was worth saving and releasing after his

death.  The young teens managed to dodge the bouncers or protective

staff to get inside and knock on his behind the stage, dressing room


The great jazz artist was wearing boxer shorts and an underwear t-shirt,

tank top or what many consider ‘muscle’ shirts.

They were high school marching band players and told Louis Armstrong

that their favorite song was “When the Saints Go Marching In.”  To the

gentle, soft spoken man, Louis thought they seemed like ‘new blood,’

needed ‘encouragement and some ‘inspiration.’

I would consider Louis Armstrong’s giving his private time a very valuable

gift given. His words of encouragement were meant to push them, to give

them the drive and determination to succeed.

When I hear of famous people giving their time to impart their thoughts

and wisdom, it makes my heart warm.

I am always glad when no rudeness is shown on either side. Young

people have always needed good role models.

Here is some of the ‘essence’ of Louis Armstrong’s informal but

meaningful interview:

“Be like shining stars in the sky.”

When asked how did he know how to become successful by the

trio of boys, Louis Armstrong gave these paraphrased words:

“I was determined. You have to be good or bad, it’s the devil.

Blow your horn daily. Warm up, practice, play and clean your

horn daily.

Keep up the chops!

You either have it or you don’t.

Play church hymns and include prayer in your life.

Find the songs that make you happy and play them daily.

In other words, play music to stay happy.”

(These lessons were meant to stay with the young men.)

When they asked, “How did you get your nickname, Mr.


He said,

“I got off a train in Bristol, England, had taken it to get to a club

where my band was playing. I have always had a large mouth

and on that day while carrying a satchel, someone remarked,

‘Satchel Mouth.’ From there, the shortened version of that

nickname became ‘Satchmo.'”

When the boys were shooed out of the dressing room by someone

entering, Louis Armstrong thanked THEM.

They thanked him back.

What an honor and a privilege for those young men!

I think if each person could have a conversation with the person they

most admired during their teenage years, we all would be so much

more motivated. Even now, who would you choose to talk to, living or

dead? I have admired Eleanore Roosevelt and Clara Barton, but so

many come to mind, I might need one of those tables that some create

for a fancy dinner party with famous people. Or maybe it would be nice

to have an informal picnic. This might get the guests relaxed and more

likely to share their bits of wisdom. Mine might have more than eight at

my party!