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Posted by John Reid on 25 Sep 2008 5:07 PM
I have always tended to think that the correct way to pronounce Louis Armstong's Christian name is "Loo-is" but I know that many others swear that it should be "Lou-ee". In one of my recent Saturday afternoon Jazz programmes on 94.1fm I asked listeners to phone in with their thoughts on how Satchmo's Christian name should be pronounced.
On the day, the overwhelming consensus of calls insisted on "Lou-is" but I did have a long conversation the following day with another listener who swore that it should be "Lou-ee". The funny thing is that some listeners get quite annoyed when Louis Armstrong's Christian name is not pronounced the way they prefer.
I always thought that the film Hello Dolly was a pretty good indication of how his name should be pronounced. He opens with the line "Hello Dolly, this is Lou-is Dolly" etc etc.
Another indicator comes from the man who is apparently Louis Armstrongs grandson. In a recent article Herb Armstong says "I remember everyone liked my grandfather. That's Louis (pronounced Lew-is) not Lou-ey. He liked to be called Louis (Lew-is)."
However if you have a look at Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that cannot always be relied on, they suggest that the correct pronunciation should be "Lou-ee".
What do you think? If anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know. Feel free to add a post to this blog.
Definitely Lou-is not Lou-ee
On a lot of Armstrong songs, he refers to himself as Loo-ee - In Hello Dolly, I think that was more of a send up of himself.
A lot of Armstrongs songs he refers to himself as Lo-ee, in hello dolly, I think it was more of a send up of himself.
Thats interesting Niven. Can you recall any of the songs where he referred to himself as Lou-ee? It would be good to hear what some of the other presenters and listeners think.
Hi again John,
On the one c.d. alone (C"est Si Bon) Armstrong refers to himself as Lou-ee on two tracks-
Track 1- Mame and track8 Hello Dolly..there are many more, but cant recall at present.
and just to further confuse the issue, here's an extract from the New York Times...
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
Published: August 3, 1999
....."Armstrong (he pronounced his first name both Louis and Louie) would have been 98 tomorrow, although he always listed his date of birth as July 4, 1900."
Just found something else from "Louis Armstong House and Archives - Queens College" www.satchmo.net................
"Is Louis's name pronounced "Lewis" or "Louie"?
Judging from home recorded tapes now in the Archives, Louis pronounced his own name as "Lewis." On his 1964 record "Hello, Dolly," he sings, "This is Lewis, Dolly" but in 1933 he made a record called "Laughin' Louie." Many broadcast announcers, fans, and acquaintances called him "Louie" and the Armstrong Archives has a 1983 videotape of Lucille Armstrong in which she calls her late husband "Louie." Musicians and close friends usually called him "Pops."
I think I recall on the High Society soundtrack that he is referred to as Lewis! But I'm a person who refers to him as Lewis rather than Louie.
I know its a small issue, but he gave so much pleasure through his music and his big personality that I'm sure he wouldn't mind what he's referred to as.
Louis Armstrong was Louis & Louee to everyone. There's no argument about it. Whether you call him Louis or Lou-ee Mr Armstrong will always be known as both to just about everyone around the world. I suspect that its more to do with formal & informal namesakes and nicknames.
So why he was also called "Satchmo"?
Its highly unlikely that the gentleman impersonating Louis Armstrong is actually a blood relative. That is yet to be confirmed by the Armstrong Estate.
Louis/Loe-ee still means many things to many people who will always love his music. Doesn't matter if it is "either or ither" as the song goes "you say neither & I say nither"... so let's just play the music.
That's very true. I think the general consensus is that "either/or" is fine but it's always interesting to hear the comments of others and to promote a little healthy discussion wherever possible. As I said, there are some who have very definitive views on pronunciation. I have even had some calls from listeners who get quite annoyed at one pronunciation or another. I think this is an illustration that there can be variations and, as you say, the music is the most important thing.
Also known as: Satchmo Armstrong
Birth: August 4, 1901 in Louisiana, United States
Death: July 6, 1971
Extract from the official Embassy of the United States celebrating Jazz.
By the late 1920's Armstrong's marriage to Lil Hardin was breaking up, and they separated around 1932. While they were still married, he had become involved with Alpha Smith. He married Smith in 1938. They divorced in about 1940. Shortly after his marriage to Smith he began courting a Cotton Club dancer named Lucille Wilson. They married in 1942 and were still married at the time of Armstrong's death. Armstrong had no children.
So he couldn't have possibly had grandchildren. Lets not enter the illegimate game. The official line no children ever, anywhere.
According to his official biography "it's possibly one of the reasons why he loved children".
I met Louis Armstrong's grandson recently and asked him this question as it has always been debatable. His answer was categorically LOUEE.
So.....don't you think a member of his family would know the correct answer?
It is debatable that the gentleman calling himself Louis Armstong's grandson is genuine!!
Louis had NO children to any of his wives. So how could he have a grandson???
I have the same problem with the pronunciation with my name - Megan. I pronounce my name "Mee-gan" but Americans pronounce it "May-gan" and some insist on pronouncing it "Megg-an". I prefer it to be pronounced "Mee-gan" but it sounds as though Louis Armstrong didnt really mind which way his name was pronounced. He was even heard using both pronounciations himself.
It has been a bone of contention for so long John. I have always pronounced the French "Louis" as opposed to "Lewis". It is the French pronounciation as opposed to the English I guess.
King Lewis XVI sounds odd.
I have had the odd phone call about it but the French alternative wins for me.
Lou-ee. As far as I can ever remember it was Lou-ee Armstrong. Louis was a bit "snob" value type. Frenchified, if you like, in an anglicized way. To me he'll always be Louee
When you look at it from the French point of view "Lou-ee" sounds entirely logical but I think he may have used both versions during his life depending on the mood.
I had a call on my programme yesterday from a listener who met Louis Armstrong when he came to Sydney many years ago. The lady's name was Dot and her late husband had been a huge fan of Louis Armstong. They both attended the concert and were invited back stage to meet Satchmo. When Dot entered the dressing room the great man introduced himself to her "Delighted to meet you - my name is Lou-is". Apparently, he spent some time chatting to them and it was a highlight of their lives.
So, as far as Dot is concerned there is no doubt whatsoever - its "Lou-is"
This is for Legs. Satchmo is a contraction of the word satchelmouth and it refers to a person with a large (physical) mouth.
Apparently Louis Armstrong had been given a number of nicknames, including "satchelmouth", as a young boy growing up in New Orleans. All were in reference to the size of his mouth. The story goes that in 1932, Percy Brooks the editor of Melody Maker Magazine met Louis in London and greeted him with the words "Hello Satchmo" and the nickname stuck.
A documentary movie of his life was released in 1958 simply called "Satchmo the Great".
1. In a black and white film, made in Copenhagen in the 30's Louis said "hello folks, my name is Lew-is Armstrong.
2. As to his grandson I understand that Louis adopted his sisters son. The person purporting to be his grandson could be technically correct if his father was the son adopted.
I think you could call Mr. Armstrong the greatest singer and instrumentalist in the history of jazz.
The so called grandson was, before he changed his name by deed poll, named Herb Johnson!
the so called grandson herbie johnson is working as a nurse in aged care in queensland australia
go figure the grandson of a great zass artist is a nurse yeh rite
I read an autobiography of Louis Armstrong when I was about 13 years old (1959). I don't remember the name of it and I went looking recently and found an out-of-print autobiography called "Satchmo" but I don't know if that was it. Anyway, I distinctly remember him saying that because he grew up in New Orleans and it is a French town, he thinks it should be pronounced "Louie". When I heard him say "Louis" over the years, I always felt he was joking and when I hear other people say it, I find it grating. Of course, 50 years later I don't know why I care, but I have carried it with me all these years.
I'm not sure if the french rule of 'liaison' applies here.
the final 's' in a word is general silent unless followed by another connected word.
this would mean lou-ee when spoken on it's own and lou-is when followed by the surname.
it makes sense to me but i barely understand french... i just remember that rule vaguely.
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