FROM 1956 until 1983, Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall was the city’s largest gig venue, playing host to an impressive array of musicians and bands.

First to appear, on May 15, 1956, was American jazz trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong.

News of his concert, with full band in tow, made the news both here in Glasgow and in America, where the Milwaukee Journal even published a picture of Armstrong, dressed in a kilt, playing the bagpipes.

The Evening Times ran a feature about him before the gig.

It said: “Today he is the idol of jazz lovers and the most outstanding trumpeter in its history. Tonight he proves it in his Kelvin Hall concerts before thousands of his admirers.”

The article explained how learning the cornet and being taught how to read music in an orphanage kick-started his successful career.

“God bless that orphanage: every year I send my old horn to the kids there,” he was quoted as saying.

Armstrong was born in Louisiana in 1901, the son of a factory worker, in a neighborhood so poor it was nicknamed ‘The Battlefield’.

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After leaving the orphanage at the age of 15, he worked odd jobs while playing in bars at night.

One of the greatest cornet players in town, Joe “King” Oliver, took young Armstrong under his wing, and his musical reputation began to grow.

He is best known for songs like What a Wonderful World, Hello, Dolly, Star Dust and La Vie En Rose.

The Kelvin Hall gig in 1956 wasn’t the first time the famous performer, known around the world as Satchmo, had appeared on stage in Glasgow.

In 1933, he toured Europe with his band, and included a night at the Pavilion Theatre.

The Evening Times said at the time: “Although his music and showmanship electrified audiences, jazz was something new and it didn’t please everyone. Some audiences threw pennies on the stage.”

By 1956, however, Armstrong was huge and when he played on a raised, revolving stage in the middle of the hall’s circus ring, the crowd (admittedly, half-full) appreciated every second.

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The Herald reported their performance was “was seemly and esoteric. It was noisy but there was no hysteria, and we saw no hep-cats and only one Teddy boy.”

Armstrong himself had a talent, not for exciting his hearers, “but for illuminating their faces with fond soft smiles, an effect which seems curious in the midst of the searing competitive noise produced by a combination of trumpet, clarinet, trombone, and the violent clatter of the drums.”

There was a moment of drama when the drummer burst his drum and had to signal offstage for a replacement but otherwise, the gig went smoothly and the music was almost continuous, reported The Herald.

“There was built up a stimulation rather than a tension,” it said. “It ... expressed itself, not in any uproarious finale but in a single voice calling from the back of the hall when the last high note had faded: ‘Good old Satchmo’.”

Satchmo was joined on stage by a young Scottish- American singer, Ella Logan, who toured with the band and joined them on TV for Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars in London that same year.

(Her famous nephew was legendary Scottish entertainer Jimmy Logan).

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One Scottish newspaper reported that in between the two shows Armstrong did, Ella brought him a fish supper which he ate in his dressing room!

*Did you see any of the greats at the Kelvin Hall? Share your memories and photos by emailing