Ever get a whoopin’ for playing the devil’s music? No? Me neither, though I got whoopin’s for plenty of other junk-all of which I deny, then, now and forever. It was obviously my brother who did it all.
As a child, Lil Hardin got a whoopin’ from her ma, however, because Momma Hardin thought the devil was coming through her daughter’s piano-playing hands. That story is included in an upcoming book by James L. Dickerson: Just for a Thrill: Lil Hardin Armstrong, First Lady of Jazz (Cooper Square Press). The book, which will be out in Feb. 2002, recounts the life of the former Mrs. Louis Armstrong, from her Memphis childhood to her death onstage, while playing “St. Louis Blues,” during a memorial jazz concert for Pops in 1971.