Lil Hardin Armstrong

Lil Hardin Armstrong

Born Feb 3, 1898

Lil Hardin Armstrong was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, and bandleader, and the second wife of Louis Armstrong with whom she collaborated on many recordings in the 1920s. Hardin's compositions include "Struttin' With Some Barbecue", "Don't Jive Me", "Two Deuces", "Knee Drops", "Doin' the Suzie-Q", "Just For a Thrill" (which became a major hit when revived by Ray Charles in 1959), "Clip Joint", and "Bad Boy" (a minor hit for Ringo Starr in 1978).… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Lil Hardin Armstrong.


1898 Birth Born in 1898.


1917 19 Years Old It was at Fisk University, a college for African Americans located in downtown Nashville, that Hardin was taught a more acceptable approach to the instrument. Hardin stayed at the school for one year, returning to Memphis in 1917.


1918 20 Years Old In August 1918, she moved to Chicago with her mother and stepfather. … Read More
1921 23 Years Old …  She was with Oliver at the Dreamland in 1921, when an offer came for the orchestra to play a six-month engagement at San Francisco's Pergola Ballroom. … Read More
1922 24 Years Old In Chicago, Hardin went back to work at the Dreamland, as pianist in an orchestra for Mae Brady, a violinist and vaudeville stalwart. While there, she fell for Jimmie Johnson, a young singer from Washington, D.C., whom she married on August 22, 1922. … Read More
1924 26 Years Old 1 More Event
Hardin and Louis were married on February 4, 1924. … Read More
1925 27 Years Old Louis was gaining an impressive reputation when Richard M. Jones convinced Okeh Records to make a series of sessions under his name: the classic Armstrong "Hot Five" recordings. With Hardin at the piano, Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, this stellar group rehearsed at Louis and Hardin's residence on Chicago's East 41st Street and held its first session on November 15, 1925. … Read More
1926 28 Years Old Hardin had actually recorded five selections for Vocalion, leading the same group, in April and May 1926. … Read More


1931 33 Years Old Louis and Hardin separated in 1931, when he had begun a liaison with Alpha Smith, who threatened to sue Armstrong for breach of promise, so he begged Hardin not to grant him a divorce. "I felt sorry for Louis", Hardin later recalled, "but he had two-timed me, so I gave him a divorce just to teach him a lesson—and I sued him, too." … Read More


1961 63 Years Old 1 More Event
…  She would again appear on that label In 1961, participating in its "Chicago: The Living Legends" project as accompanist for Alberta Hunter and leader of her own hastily assembled big band.
1962 64 Years Old In 1962, Hardin began writing her autobiography, in collaboration with Albertson, but she had second thoughts when she realized that such a book could not be done properly without including material that might discomfit Louis Armstrong, so the project was shelved with only five chapters written.
1969 71 Years Old In 1969, Hardin told a University of Alabama professor that she wanted to work on the book alone and self-publish it.
1971 73 Years Old 1 More Event
Hardin first received piano instruction from her third grade teacher, Miss Violet White, then her mother enrolled her in Mrs. Hook's School of Music. "I later learned that they had taught me all the wrong things," Hardin recalled in 1971, "but they meant well."
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