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Lil Armstrong interview - 1 of 3

As anyone who has given my blog a modest going-over knows by now, Lil Hardin Armstrong and I were good friends in the last ten years of her life. We met in September of 1961, when I was in Chicago producing a series of session for Riverside Records' "Living Legends" series, a continuation of a project started in New Orleans nine months earlier. I have posted my recollections and reflections on both trips elsewhere on this blog. You will find links at the bottom of this one.

This time I am posting the first of three tape reels containing a very casual audio interview with Lil, done in 1968 as an initial step in our collaboration on her autobiography. As you may know, unforeseen circumstances halted that project and I have already posted a few excerpts from the manuscript here. I recently came upon this tape and thought it might be of interest, although Lil reminisced about some of the same things for Bill Grauer in 1956. That became a Riverside LP called "Satchmo and Me," which may be difficult to obtain today. Anyway, the Grauer interview was heavily edited and it had unnecessary narrative bridges. A transcript of that release has since been made available for $14 by someone trying to cash in on it. This interview, on the other hand, is unexpurgated and free.

Here is a link to Part 2 of this three-part interview.

Additional links that pertain to Lil:

The Jones Music Store, Jelly Roll, and Handsome Men
Louis, Lil, and the Little Gangster


  1. I can't thank you enough for this, Chris. Lil Hardin Armstrong is one of the very few people I wish that I had met - she sounds like she was a charmer.

  2. She was, and a wonderfully warm person, too.

    1. Bro. Chris:
      Thanks for posting this...This is a true missing link in Jazz history and I am glad you understood the value of the moment by recording it for posterity...We love you madly for your service!!!

      I have two questions:

      1.) Do you mind if I use three minutes of the segment where Lil talks about meeting Louis for a little over 30 minute video tribute sketch I am doing in honor of Satchmo?

      2.) Also do you do interviews? I am a host of a popular internet radio show and I would love to interview you about your relationship with jazz music and its most significant artists...

      Also I recently did an interview with a woman who claims to be Satchmo's daughter from a relationship with a longtime mistress...She makes a very compelling argument and she recently wrote a book about it as well...You can check out our interview by accessing the link below:

      Thanks in advance for your consideration!!!
      Jazzliciously yours,
      Bro. Ron

    2. Thank you for those kind words, Ron. Feel free to use the segment of my Lil Armstrong interview—I hope you give me a chance to see your tribute when it's finished.

      As for Louis' daughter, you are right, she sounds quite convincing through most of your interview with her, but her story falls apart and reminds me of other such stories I have heard from alleged offspring. So, quite frankly, I don't believe her. I base this on some of the things she says, as well as my personal knowledge of Louis and Lucille.

      Consider her attempt to place Louis' letters on auction. If he really was her father and if that really means as much to her as she avers, why would she auction them off? She claims not to be looking for money....Hmmmm.

      Were I this woman, I would insist on a DNA test before writing a single word. I suspect that publishers were pessimistic for several reasons, not the least of which is their previous experience with pop up "heirs."

      As for an interview, I will gladly do one, but I don't know how to contact you via personal e-mail. If you send me an e-mail address, I will get back to you without publishing it here.

  3. Thank you SO much for making this available, Chris.


  4. It's taken me a while to catch up with listening to this interview. Thanks so much for putting it online -- it's unforgettable.

  5. Thank you Christ Albertson for these interviews that are very helpful to hear as I work on my thesis on Lil Hardin Armstrong and American jazzwomen instrumentalists.

  6. Dear Chris Altbertson,
    Aain thank you for these interesting interviews on Lil Hardin! I would like to cite these interviews in my thesis and was wondering if they were all from 1963 or which other information you can give me for the citation, so that I am accurate in mentioning my sources. Thank you very much in advance!

    1. The interviews with Lil took place in my New York apartment in 1963. I'm glad that you find them useful.