[Dixielandjazz] My Armstrong recollections

Tony Orr jsbarque at netscape.net
Tue Jan 25 23:24:38 PST 2005

Richard Broadie's anecdote about meeting "Pops" is an absolute Gem. Us 
OKOM lovers and/or practitioners at the far flung corners of the planet 
get a big buzz from shared experiences like this. Without wanting an 
avalanche of anecdotes which a good many of our listmates in the USA 
could come up with, it is really appreciated when listmates are moved to 
share knowledge like this. Great list

thanks, Dick

Tony Orr
banjo - Melbourne
Happy Australia Day and congratulations Bill Haesler

rbroadie at dc.rr.com wrote:

> I believe it was in late 1966 that I first met him. It was at the 
> rosary of Ellington bassist Wellman Braud, who I had met and played 
> with at jam sessions at Isabele Burbee's house in Whittier, CA over a 
> period of several years. My daytime gig prohibited my attending 
> Wellman's funeral the next day and I was somewhat depressed, knowing 
> that I was going to miss saying "good-bye" to Wellman in the company 
> of many mutual friends. There was little more than a handful in 
> attendance at the rosary but, to my astonishment, Louis Armstrong was 
> there. Following the rosary, those in attendance were invited to a 
> nearby home where Mr. Armstrong was staying. Within a half an hour, I 
> found myself in the presence of "Pops" as he was called as well as 
> calling most others. He was in a tank top undershirt and in striped 
> shorts and telling stories of recent trips and future plans.
> At that time I had recently graduated from college and my first "real" 
> daytime gig was working at the Watts Service Center on 103rd Street in 
> LA as an Employment Security Officer for the California Dept. of 
> Employment. (This was a year after the infamous Watts riots.) I had 
> little reputation as a jazz player but was respected in the Black 
> community for my exceptional bid whist playing abilities. BW was a 
> popular card game in the community at that time and for "whitey" to 
> dominate that game during lunch breaks and occasional parties was seen 
> as a rarity. Someday I'll write some notes on what Watts was like a 
> year after the riots. I digress.
> When he found out where I was working he became very interested and 
> spent at least 10 or 15 minutes asking me about the LA riots, what I 
> thought was responsible, and my opinions of that community as a whole. 
> Gradually the conversation shifted to where he admitted how hurt he 
> felt by the rejection by the people of Watts who largely perceived him 
> as being an "Uncle Tom." I recall his mentioning something that could 
> be called prioritizing, but I doubt that was the precise term he used. 
> The message he delivered that night was that the most important step 
> in achieving equality among races was for all to simply learn how to 
> love and get along with one-another (respect?), and don't let the 
> little differences get in the way. He said that too many people were 
> getting "hung up" on unimportant things, looking for different 
> (negative) meanings behind everything that was being said, looking for 
> trouble and creating hassles.
> Then suddenly he remembered that he was "supposed" to be entertaining 
> us and the whole mood switched from somber to Swiss Cris and how 
> important that stuff was to maintain good health.
> For a few minutes, those of us present got a look into Mr. Armstrong's 
> soul, at a moment he was thinking of a lost friend and a white kid 
> working in the middle of a community with which he (Louis) was having 
> a problems communicating. I have no idea how long I was there that 
> evening but it was very late when I got home. I recall thinking that 
> for a brief few minutes those present, including myself, had witnessed 
> a side of Mr. Armstrong that was not frequently seen.
> I met Mr. Armstrong one other time. This was in July, 1970, backstage 
> at the Shrine Auditorium in LA, the occasion being one of many 
> celebrations of his 70th birthday. At the conclusion of the concert, 
> pianist Alton Purnell invited my wife, Sharon, and me backstage to 
> meet the "cast." When I saw Louis, he was talking with Hoagy 
> Charmichael, having just performed "Rocking Chair" with him minutes 
> earlier at the conclusion of the program. Mr. Armstrong recognized me 
> as "the white kid from Watts" and asked me if I was still using Swiss 
> Cris while smiling broadly. Before I could reply, he introduced me to 
> Hoagy. I started to tell Mr. Charmichael that I had written a few 
> songs when Louis interrupted me and gave me a "proper" introduction. 
> After hearing that I was or had been a friend of Barney Bigard, 
> Wellman Braud AND Louis Armstrong Mr. Charmichael gave me a card and 
> encouraged me to look him up if I ever got to the Palm Springs area.
> Two years later I was living in Palm Springs and used that card to 
> open up many doors for myself as a musician in the desert.
> Mr. Armstrong told many stories that night, after the rosary. I know 
> he spoke of early days in New Orleans and of King Oliver. I recall 
> mentioning that my dad had heard Fate Marable in his youth and that, 
> as a response, Louis had a funny story about Mr. Marable that I no 
> longer remember. I'm certain there were many fascinating stories told 
> of great music and times on that distant night that I've long 
> forgotten. I do know that that was the singualr event in my life where 
> I felt that I was in the presence of one second only to God. With 
> respect to his musicianship, contributions to the history of jazz, 
> etc. I have yet to significantly change my mind. Dick B.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "George Thurmond" <gmthur at delrio.com>
> To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005 7:21 PM
> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Louis Armstrong, Listen to
>> John P, Ric G, and Dick B -
>>        Thanks for helping me get this wonderful BBC program up - I 
>> got it
>> on the site John suggested.  It was great hearing Louis's narration 
>> along
>> with those musical clips.
>>        I've got a copy of his Swiss Cris diet somewhere.  Nobody, but
>> nobody, could promote a laxative as well as he could.  Makes you want 
>> to run
>> out and buy and try some!
>> Geo. Thurmond
>> The Louis show is still on BBC Radio 4 website. I am listening now using
>> this link
>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/radio4/int/-/radio4/factual/rams/archivehour.ram
>> John Petters
>> Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ
>> www.traditional-jazz.com
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
>> [mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of George 
>> Thurmond
>> Sent: 25 January 2005 01:01
>> To: DJML
>> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Louis Armstrong, Listen to
>>        Thanks for the tip, Bob, which I got this afternoon;  but they
>> already took it down,  apparently by early this evening.  I called it 
>> up and
>> got "site unknown".  Dadgummit!
>> Geo. Thurmond
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert S. Ringwald" 
>> <robert at ringwald.com>
>> To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
>> Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005 1:22 PM
>> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Louis Armstrong, Listen to
>>> Listmates,
>>> Listen to the BBC radio show before they take it down.  This is the 
>>> direct
>>> link.
>>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/radio4/int/-/radio4/factual/rams/archivehour.ra
>>>  It sounds especially good with my Bose noise canceling earphones.
>>> --Bob Ringwald K6YBV
>>> Placerville, CA USA
>>> "There are three kinds of men:
>>> The ones that learn by reading.
>>> The few who learn by observation.
>>> The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for
>>> themselves."
>>> --William Penn Adair (Will) Rogers B: 11/4/1879 D: 8/15/1935
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Dixielandjazz mailing list
>>> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
>>> http://ml.islandnet.com/mailman/listinfo/dixielandjazz
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