Nearly 50 years after his death, Louis Armstrong remains one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures. Popular fans still appreciate his later hits such as “Hello, Dolly!” and “What a Wonderful World,” while in the jazz community, he remains venerated for his groundbreaking innovations in the 1920s. The achievements of Armstrong’s middle years, however, possess some of the trumpeter’s most scintillating and career-defining stories.
But the story of this crucialtime has never been told in depth – until now. Between 1929 and 1947, Armstrong transformed himself from a little-known trumpeter in Chicago to an internationally renowned pop star, setting in motion the innovations of the Swing Era and Bebop. He had a similar effect on the art of American pop singing,waxing some of his most identifiable hits such as “Jeepers Creepers” and “When You’re Smiling.” However as author Ricky Riccardi shows, this transformative era wasn’t without its problems, from racist performance reviews and being held up at gunpoint by gangsters to struggling with an overworked embouchure and getting arrested for marijuana possession.
Utilizing a prodigious amount of new research, Riccardi traces Armstrong’s mid-career fall from grace and dramatic resurgence. Featuringnever-before-published photographs and stories culled from Armstrong’s personal archives, Heart Full of Rhythm tells the story of how the man called “Pops” became the first “King of Pop.”
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