Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

Subscriber: null; date: 25 January 2020

Armstrong [née Hardin], Lil(lian)locked

  • Chris Albertson

(b Memphis, TN, Feb 3, 1898; d Chicago, IL, Aug 27, 1971). American jazz pianist, singer, bandleader, and composer. She studied keyboard privately from an early age and had hopes of becoming a concert pianist. While she was enrolled at Fisk University, her mother and stepfather moved to Chicago, where in 1917 she took a job as a sheet music demonstrator, which led to her joining the Original Creole Jazz Band as its pianist. It was her first job playing jazz and she decided not to return to Fisk. She subsequently worked with several bands, including King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with which she performed in San Francisco in 1921 and made her recording debut in 1923. By this time the band included louis Armstrong, whom she married in 1924. Armstrong’s place in jazz history was assured by her participation on Oliver’s Gennett recordings and Louis’ Hot Five sessions for Okeh. She played an important role in Louis’ move into a brighter spotlight before their separation in 1931. For the next two decades Armstrong toured with her own bands, billed early on as “Mrs Louis Armstrong and her Orchestra.” In the late 1930s she recorded for Decca and eventually became the label’s house pianist. In the 1940s she attended and graduated from a school for men’s tailoring, but soon returned to music. Armstrong worked as a solo act and with small groups in the United States and Europe throughout the 1950s. She recorded occasionally during the same period and made her last, in Chicago, in 1961, although she contined to perform for another ten years. Armstrong’s compositions include “Struttin’ with some Barbecue,” a Louis Armstrong classic that became a Dixieland perennial, and “Just for a Thrill,” which Ray Charles revived and turned into a hit in 1959.

Selected recordings

As a leader

Lil Hardin Armstrong (1961, Fantasy OJCCD)

As a sideman with Louis Armstrong

Hot Fives and Sevens (1925, JSP)


Multimedia links

    The editorially selected links below are provided by our partner Alexander Street Press (ASP) and require a subscription to their site. If you or your institution are not a subscriber or are not logged into the site, you will be taken to a login page. If you subscribe to ASP but not to the module that includes a particular link, you may receive an error message. Otherwise you will go directly to the example. If you experience any problems with the links, please contact us.