Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong

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Another indicator of the strength of Louis Armstrong’s character was his unshakable loyalty towards those he regarded as his friends. I have personal and proud experience of the warmth with which he responds to any action which he regards as a favour to him. At the end of his 1956 season at the Empress Hall in London, when my band was privileged to share the bill, I spent a couple of days making a crown out of cardboard, Woolworth jewellery and ping-pong balls, and inscribed ‘King Louis’. At the end of the show, when I was called up on stage to take a bow in the finale, I made the announcement: ‘On behalf of all British musicians, I crown Louis Armstrong the undisputed King of Jazz,’ and plonked the crown on his head. A day or two later, I saw him backstage at Manchester. I asked him casually if he still had his crown. ‘Of course I have – I had it shipped back home today. I’ll always keep that – you gave it to me.’

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1956-1962: Bad Penny Blues

In 1956 his simple riff composition “Bad Penny Blues” became the first jazz record to reach the Top 20. The ‘hit’ enabled to Humph to plan and build his own house in Arkley, Hertfordshire.

Also in 1956 the legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong appeared at The Humphrey Lyttelton Club (now the 100 Club) with his band . As a broadcaster Humph broke new ground when he compered BBC2’s Jazz 625. In 1959 Humph and the band toured America.