Bobby Hackett admired Louis Armstrong — the man and his music — throughout his life, and Louis felt the same way about the younger man. Louis and Bobby were friends, enjoyed each other’s company, and played alongside each other for nearly three decades. Charles Peterson took photographs of them at the Walt Whitman School in 1942 (see that frankly astonishing offering here) and we have video footage of them at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1970.
The photograph above comes from drummer Walt Gifford’s scrapbook, lent to me by the very generous Duncan Schiedt. The photographer was Bob Parent, but the photograph is otherwise not annotated. But the “Childs” menu or drink list that Louis is resting his hand on tells me that this was taken during a Hackett gig at Childs Paramount; Louis’ informal attire suggests that he was visiting rather than playing, and that this happy meeting took place in warm weather.
My research team of Riccardi, Caparone, DeCarlis, and Rothberg, LLC, has noted that Hackett is playing a Besson trumpet with a Bach mouthpiece; The New Yorker has listed Hackett as playing at Childs in September 1952, and Louis was playing with Gordon Jenkins at the Paramount Theatre (immediately above the restaurant) in September, before he left for Europe. Even better, the Hackett gig began on September 16, 1952, and it has been documented that Louis dropped in to visit and hear. And smile.
I could show you a picture photograph of the restaurant — at 1501 Broadway (at 43rd Street) beneath the Paramount Theatre, or a 1947 menu that lists as its highest-priced supper item a plate of fried oysters, potatoes, and cole slaw — seventy-five cents. I could point out that Louis’ watch seems to say it is just past 11:30.
But the picture says more about what happiness is than any of that historical detritus, and Louis and Bobby are secure in their brotherly love and respect forever.
Here’s another lovely kind of evidence, music I have known since childhood:
and another version, from 1970:
(More evidence of Louis and Bobby’s deep love can be found here — coming soon!)
Incidentally, Louis was quoted as saying, “I’m the coffee, and Bobby’s the cream,” which I suppose one could take as a racial joke about their outer coverings — but I see it as something deeper, the way two elements combine in a sweet synergy to create something that neither of them would have been, separate.
May your happiness increase!