Celebrating the New Orleans Tricentennial with Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino Louis “ Satchmo” Armstrong August 4 1901- July 6, 1971 At the tender age of eleven, Louis Armstrong dropped out of school to deliver coal in the rough neighborhood known as the Battlefield (aka Black Storyville) where he lived with his single mother. Listening to the music emanating from the local dancehalls, he would sing in the streets for money with the other local boys. But, Louis was fortunate, as well. He worked for a caring Lithuanian Jewish family, the Karnofskys, who encouraged him to follow his passion for music and helped him pay for his first cornet. Louis recalled in a memoir, “The Karnofsky family kept reminding me that I had talent… as a young boy coming up, the people whom I worked for were very much concerned about my future in music. They could see that I had music in my soul. They really wanted me to be something in life. And music was it.” As a reminder of them, Louis wore a Star of David most of his adult life. As a youngster, Louis Armstrong was constantly in trouble, and even received his first trumpet lessons while living at a detention center. After leaving the center, Louis found a job in a dancehall, played in brass bands, and met his musical idol Joe “King” Oliver. As his talent as a trumpeter grew, he set himself apart from other artists by executing soul-filled solos and incorporating “scatting” into his performances. Louis eventually left New Orleans for bigger and better gigs in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, where he became a singing, acting and Broadway musical sensation. Throughout his career, Louis would always make trips back to his cherished New Orleans, to which he largely credited with the man he became. "Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans” Fats Domino February 26, 1928– October 24, 2017 Nicknamed “Fats” by his manager, New Orleans bandleader Billy Diamond, Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. was born in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. The pianist-singer-songwriter was the youngest of eight and true to his roots, spoke French Creole as his first language. Like Louis Armstrong, Fats dropped out of school at a young age and worked odd jobs, including ice cream delivery, around the city. He learned piano from his brother-in-law and began playing in New Orleans bars by age 14. Discovered by his manager while playing at a cookout, Fats was quickly invited to join Diamond’s band at the Hideaway Club. Soon after, he signed with Imperial Records and produced his first hit, “The Fat Man”, one of the first top-selling Rock n’ Roll records. But that was only the beginning of this legend’s career. Over his lifetime, Fats Domino had many more records ‘go gold’, with over 30 hit recordings on the US Billboard Top 40’s, such as “Blueberry Hill’ and “Ain’t That A Shame.” His records only sold second to Elvis Presley. Despite his overwhelming success, Fats always returned to his childhood home in the 9th Ward between tours. The world-famous pianist remained there even through Hurricane Katrina (until finally forced to evacuate), after which he lived with one of his eight children until his death in 2017. The public’s reaction to Domino’s passing is a testament to his influence and legacy. The days that followed his death were filled with tributes performed throughout the city, as well as a second line. Hundreds gathered to leave flowers and pay respects to the legend outside his old 9th Ward home, and murals of Domino can still be found decorating the streets of New Orleans. Thanks to our sponsor Brothers Gavin Zeigler, age 14, and Cameron Zeigler, age 11, depict two of our city's greatest talents, Fats Domino and Louis Armstrong, in our Tricentennial. Many thanks to Laura Sillars for the use of her home. Photo by Twirl Photography.