How Louis Armstrong Became Louis Armstrong (feat. Miles Brown) – Drunk History


Hello, I’m Daryl Johnson. And today we’re gonna talk
about Louis Armstrong, and the people
that made Louis the Louis Armstrong
we know today. Louis Armstrong grew up in the roughest and poorest
part of New Orleans. He’d be like, ♪ I’m gonna sing
for some money ♪ When people would throw
pennies at him, he would pick up the pennies
and throw them in his mouth so that the big kids
wouldn’t take them from him. And that’s how he got
his first nickname, Satchmo. You take all the coins
and put them in your mouth like a satchel–
satch-mouth. His mom works as an
off-and-on-again prostitute in the brothels where
all the jazz music was playing, so Louis would be like… Hey, girl,
can I listen real quick to the band that’s playing
on the other side of this wall? And so he would listen
to the Kid Ori Band and “King” Joe Oliver… [upbeat jazz music] Baddest cornetist in town. Couldn’t nobody touch
King Oliver. And little Louis was listening
through those walls and was like,
That’s what I want to do. I want to play that music. Whew. Ah! It’s burning the inside
of my body! Okay, so, one day… a Jewish coal merchant,
Bernhardt Karnofsky, saw little Louis
at the brothels and said, Hey, little kid,
I can give you a job if you work for me delivering
coal to the prostitutes. Come into our family. We’re gonna feed you and treat you
like one of our own. Mrs. Karnofsky would sing
little Jewish lullabies to Louis as a young boy,
and it’d be like, ♪ Ruga-ta ♪ No, wait. No, that’s the prayer. The lullaby
would probably be like, ♪ We’re Jewish,
and we love it ♪ That’s, like, nice, right? (Derek)
That’s perfect. (Daryl)
So, at 7 years old,
he’s working for the Karnofskys. On the truck,
he used to play a horn, like… ♪ Ba-ba-ba-ba ♪ We’re comin’. And they were driving
past this pawnshop, and in the window
of this pawnshop was this old, beat-up cornet, and he was like, I want that. Little Louis
asked Karnofsky… Do you think you can
advance me the $5 to buy that cornet? He said, Of course I can
loan you the $5. And it was a piece of junk,
but it was his piece of junk. He used to polish it.
He was like… ♪ Har-mup, nar-nah-nar-nar-bup ♪ ‘Cause he wasn’t
really that good yet. But he would say, I’m gonna be the best cornetist
in all Louisiana. And wore a Star of David
for the rest of his life to commemorate how much the Karnofsky family
meant to him. That was way before all these celebrities today
made it popular to just go grab a little
black kid off the street. [laughter] So he’s out one night, and he decides
to shoot a gun into the air to celebrate New Year’s. Police was like… Mm-mm. You can’t be
a little black kid in New Orleans shooting
a gun in the air. We gonna arrest you. He got taken to the New Orleans
Home for Colored Waifs. (Derek)
It sounds racist. (Daryl)
It’s–I’m sure
it was pretty racist. This is–
we’re, like, talking 1913. And that’s when he meets
Pete Davis, the musical “instructure”– musical instructor. Pete Davis taught him
how to read music and how to play technically. And he’s like,
You’re gonna be the “dest”– the best damn horn player
in New Orleans. And so, a couple years later,
when he gets out, he’s playing in
all these, like, seedy bars. Everybody in New Orleans
is like, Hey, that’s little
Louis Armstrong. He used to make
the horn talk. Is that what they said? It’s what it sounded like. ♪ Bwop, bwah-da-bwah-da-bwop,
Bwah-bwah ♪ ♪ Go get you a prostitute ♪ ♪ Get you some whiskey ♪ ♪ Bwah-da-dup-bup-bup-bup ♪ ♪ And have a good time, ha ♪ And one day, his idol,
“King” Joe Oliver, heard him play, and he was like,
Man, this kid’s good. [items clattering] Oh, [bleep]. [laughter] Oh, there’s another one. I told you,
Sazeracs do something special. [laughter] (Derek)
Tell me the story. Starting the story
from over the beginning. No, no, for real, Daryl,
tell me about Louis Armstrong. Hey, let’s be honest.
We’ve been through a lot. [laughing] All right. It was King Oliver
who taught him how to perform. So they used to march
all around town, in parades, marching bands, and that’s how Louis
got his soul. Papa Joe would be like… If you heard the crowd
getting into the music, give them a little bit more,
right? So if you was like, ♪ Bah-bah-da-bah-duh-ba-bup ♪ ♪ Bada-bada-bada-bah ♪ Just throw more notes. ♪ Bah-bada-bada-ba-bah-bah ♪ [mumbled melody] ♪ Bop-bop-bow ♪ [mumbled melody] And little Louis
was like… Sure. I’m drunk as [bleep]. I’ll do whatever you want. I’m so drunk. What you want now? – What was I talking about?
[laughter] We were talking
about Louis Armstrong. So, to be honest, he was playing
better than Papa Joe. Louis became the number-one
cornetist in New Orleans. And everybody was like, Man, this Louis Armstrong
is good. And that’s when he blew up. – Cheers.
– Louis Armstrong. – To Louis.
– To Louis. (Derek)
Without that love
that he was given, he might… (Daryl)
He might not be the
Louis Armstrong we know today. Always remember
where you got that– that inspiration from. – Thank you.
– Thank you. Louis. Louis Armstrong
was the greatest. Ooh, okay,
do it slow. You want me
to crack your back? Yeah, okay,
but do it slow. [laughing] You want to crack–
You’re drunk. I’m drunk!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *