Pops Book Party at the Armstrong Abode

Louis Armstrong fans with a penchant for history will be delighted about an upcoming event which will allow guests to roam the halls of Satchmo’s abode and gaze at authentic furniture and collectibles the late trumpeter once owned. The book party for the recently released Pops – A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin), will be held inside Armstrong’s home of nearly three decades.

The event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 at 2 p.m. at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and will include a reading by Teachout. The traditional two-family home located in the Queens neighborhood of Corona is now a National Historic Landmark and museum open to the public.

Pops was written by Teachout, a drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, and was released this month to great acclaim. It was named to one of the New York Times‘ lists of top 10 best books of the year, and was chosen as one of December’s “Best of the Month” picks by Amazon.

“This is the most definitive and complete autobiography to date on Louis Armstrong,” said Deslyn Dyer, the Armstrong Museum’s assistant director. “Terry does justice in telling the real Louis Armstrong story because he listened to Louis talk about his own life. Louis was the main source.”

In the research process for the book, Teachout spent countless hours listening to the nearly 650 reel-to-reel tape recordings Armstrong made throughout his lifetime. The recordings captured everyday activities such as dinner with his wife or musings about life, in addition to the musician’s experiences on the road and his personal tributes to friends.

Armstrong kept and catalogued every recording in his Queens home, and even created a collage for the cover of each tape. “He was incredibly creative and that did not stop when he put down his horn,” Dyer said. Teachout was the first to use the recordings-which have been archived at Queens College since 1994-as a primary resource. (To see detailed reproductions of Armstrong’s tape-box collages, pick up Steven Brower’s new book, Satchmo: The Wonderful World and Art of Louis Armstrong [Abrams].)

“It’s a very intimate personal experience,” Dyer said of listening to the tapes. “You really are a fly on the wall.”

Shortly after they wed, Armstrong and his fourth wife Lucille moved into the Queens home in 1943 and lived there until Armstrong’s passing in 1971. No one has resided in the home since the Armstrongs.

“When you walk in you are thrown back in time to the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s because the house has remained pretty much untouched,” Dyer said.

The home is registered as a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark. After Lucille Armstrong’s death in 1983, the estate and its contents were willed to the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, with the request that the home be given to the City of New York. The home and activities of the museum are currently administrated by Queens College.

The event is free, but due to limited space, reservations are required. In addition to guided tours of the home and Armstrong’s den-where many of his home recordings took place-New Orleans-style refreshments will be served. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase Pops at the event.

E-mail requests for reservations can be sent to [email protected] or over the phone at (718) 478-8274. Additional information and directions to the museum can be found on the Louis Armstrong House Museum Web site.

Originally Published