Rifftides reader Deborah Hendrick e-mailed the following question:
I have noticed that when talking about Louis Armstrong, musician Wynton Marsalis carefully, almost deliberately, pronounces “Louis” as Lou-iss, not Lou-ee, which is how I usually hear the name.
How did Armstong pronounce his name?
He invariably pronounced it Louis, not Louie, as he demonstrates here, with help from a friend.
Jason Parker says
I took a History of Jazz class from the great Cornetist Bobby Bradford in college, and when anybody pronounced it “Lou-ee” he’d bark “His mama didn’t name him Lou-ee, it’s Lou-IS!”
Deborah Hendrick says
Oh! I am smiling from ear to ear. Thank you so much—what a perfect answer.
Rob D says
Louis..I love him as a jazz giant and as a popular music giant.
He’s just one of those forces of nature that its senseless to resist. Everything he did was with soul and love.
I had a HS music teacher who insisted on Lou-is. He was a huge Armstrong fan and had a blown up version of the famous Life magaizine cover photo of Louis blowing his horn. I always thought he was what a musician should look like..and sound like.
Jim Brown says
Nearly 30 years ago, I had the wonderful experience of viewing this particular film clip in the Academy Theater as part of a long technical presentation about sound for cinema. The entire technical presentation was great, but when Louis came on the the screen, it became pure magic. Hello Dolly was Streisand’s show, but the moment Louis appeared it was his alone.
Terry Teachout says
Not to plug “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong,” but the reason why he pronounced it “Louis” instead of “Louie” can be found there–and it’s both interesting and significant.
(As is the book itself. See: