Publish Date: Feb. 21, 1949
Cover Story: Louis the First
How TIME Covered the News: The trumpeter with the silver tongue and a suave, gravelly baritone helped usher in a new era of jazz music. TIME paid tribute in 1949, making Armstrong the very first jazz musician to ever grace the cover.
“In the five-and six-man combinations in which Armstrong has worked much of his life, he has had to earn that kind of praise—and without the carefully arranged six-and eight-horn brass choirs of the big bands to smother sour notes for him. Playing without written arrangements, bending the melody around on his own, then blending in with the others when the clarinet or trombone soars off on the lead, Louis has wrung raves even from longer-haired critics.”
Next 1950 – Mao Zedong