Lil Harden-Armstrong

Lil Armstrong

Lillian Hardin was born in Memphis Tennessee on February 3, 1898 and died onAugust 27, 1971. She taught piano in Memphis, and after some time at Fisk University moved to Chicago and worked as a sheet music demonstrator at the Jones Music Store. There she met and learned improvisation from Jelly Roll Morton. She later joined Lawrence Duhe's band as a pianist and played with him at Chigago's Dreamland. Duhe brought Louis Armstrong in to play with the band, and at first Lil didn't get along with him, thinking he was too much country rube for the sophisticated Chicago audiences. But soon they fell in love and she became the second Mrs. Louis Armstrong. She was a great influence on Armstrong for the next few years, pushing him into his own career, until 1931 when they separated and Lil eventually formed a new all girl band. She tried to leave the music business and become a tailor, but the demand for her music brought her back into the business as a solo singer and pianist. She was deeply upset at the death of Louis Armstrong in 1971, and about a month later during a memorial televised concert for Louis, while playing the piano she collapsed and died. Listen to her song, Just For a Thrill and you can hear her continuing affection for Louis long after their separation.

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