Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ARMSTRONG, Lil

(b Lillian Hardin, 3 Feb. 1898, Memphis TN; d 27 Aug. '71, Chicago) Piano, singer, leader. To Chicago '17; own band '20; played with King Oliver on and off '21-4. She married Oliver's second cornettist, Louis Armstrong, '24; with formal training, she understood what an unusually fine musician Louis was and urged him to strike out on his own. Led her own Chicago band while Louis was with Fletcher Henderson; then to NYC and both returned to Chicago; he worked in her band '25. She played on his Hot Five and Hot Seven discs '25-7; toured with Freddie Kappard; gained degree, teacher's diploma in music; separated from Louis '31 (divorced '38). Led all-girl and all-male bands, radio broadcasts, appeared solo in revues; was house pianist at Decca late '30s. Mostly solo from '40s; had long residencies at clubs in Chicago, Milwaukee; toured Europe and worked in Paris '52, continued playing dates in midwest USA and Canada, '50s-60s. She died during a memorial concert for Louis.