“AN OLD OFFENDER,” JANUARY. 2, 1913

Perhaps you’ve seen this already — courtesy of http://www.nola.com — an excerpt from the police blotter of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE of Jan. 2, 1913:

Our lives take unusual paths.  At twelve, the “negro” Louis Armstrong was already excited by the possibility of entertaining people in public.  The impulse to celebrate was strong.  But the Waif’s Home was where Louis was — eventually — given a bugle, then taught to play HOME SWEET HOME.  Would he have found his way to jazz so quickly had he not shot off the revolver?  One never knows; it is possible he would have continued as a singer — part of a quartet — or would have become a world-altering clarinetist.  We can’t say.  But it is the only time I can think of that I am grateful beyond words for one of my heroes being arrested, going to jail . . . especially as “an old offender.”

Louis offended no one, but journalism never quite gets the facts right.

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3 responses to ““AN OLD OFFENDER,” JANUARY. 2, 1913

  1. Randy Skretvedt

    I knew this story well but didn’t know that it was documented in print at the time. Since this is from January 2, Louis was evidently bringing in the New Year with a bang. Ironically, his being sent to the Waif’s Home was the luckiest break of his life, and a lucky break for all of us who love his music.

  2. Thanks for this precious document, Michael!

  3. The more I know about the life of this man, the more I think it’s a fairy tale.

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