Louis Armstrong was on one wild ride in 1957. Arguably the best-known jazz musician in America, he was playing to packed houses, and in the Jim Crow South – where the audiences were almost always segregated – he’d endured death threats, and bomb threats, and one day in January several sticks of dynamite exploded outside a Knoxville auditorium while he was onstage with his combo. No one was injured, and Armstrong kept the 3,000-strong crowd’s spirit up by quipping “That sounded like a drunk falling out of the balcony.” And then he played another tune.
But the whole lamentable situation bugged him.
Associated Press/Sept. 19, 1957