lunedì 12 settembre 2011

Sex, Drugs and Louis Armstrong

Sul sito della rivista inglese Express è stato pubblicato un bell'articolo che mette in risalto gli aspetti più controversi della vita e della carriera di Louis Armstrong.
"What many don’t know is that he was a remarkable musician whose technical expertise and the genius of his musical imagination made him the model for virtually every jazz musician from the late Twenties to the outbreak of the Second World War, and beyond.
He was also addicted to laxatives, regularly smoked marijuana and was mixed up with gangsters. His mother worked in a new Orleans brothel and he spent his whole life believing he was a year older than he actually was.
“Louis Armstrong, who was born July 4 1900, the Back O’ Town section in New Orleans.” So wrote Armstrong in 1969 in what was the opening to a book about his life.
He was, significantly, neither born on Independence Day nor in that year but he believed he was for all of his life. It was two decades after he died in 1971 that the truth about his birth was discovered; the baptismal records of a Catholic church in New Orleans revealed he was born on August 4, 1901.
At two years old Louis was packed off to his paternal grandmother so that his mother could move to Storyville where she worked as a prostitute on Perdido Street in the French Quarter.
By the time he was seven he was back living with his mother and working for a Russian Jewish family selling coal to brothels while also going to school.
When he was 11 he was found guilty of firing a gun and sent to the Colored Waifs Home For Boys where he spent the next 18 months. It could well have been the making of him. He learned to play the cornet there and a year after leaving the home he took responsibility for his cousin’s illegitimate son who would later turn out to have learning difficulties. He was just 14 years old.
Two years later Louis was playing the blues and jazz on his cornet in the bars and brothels of Storyville. Then in 1918 he married a prostitute, Daisy, the first of his four wives...."
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