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VIP Louis Armstrong ( August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971 )

Louis Armstrong was first turned onto marijuana in the mid-1920s, and he smoked it all his life, including before performances and recordings.

Armstrong was arrested in November 1930 while smoking marijuana with drummer Vic Berton outside the Cotton Club in Culver City, California. Variety, under headline “Drug Charges Against Jazz Band Musicians” said that pair were arrested by narcotic officers and arraigned on charges of possession of marijuana, “a dopeweed used in cigarettes.”

According to Vic Berton’s brother Ralph, “The cops took Vic and Louis downtown, where they spent the night in a cell, laughing it up–they were still high. They stopped laughing the next morning when the judge game them six months and a one thousand dollar fine each.” Connections, possibly through graft exercised by Prohibition-era club owners, got the sentences suspended and “Armstrong went back to smoking marijuana almost immediately.” The furor in press died down.

In 1954 Louis published a book titled, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans. Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins reveals that Joe Glaser, an Al Capone acolyte who was Armstrong’s manager later in his career, suppressed parts of the book that dealt with marijuana. Armstrong planned to publish a sequel which he said he would call “Gage”–slang for marijuana. He said, at one point, “This whole second book might be about nothing but gage.”

Giddins thought the book had been lost, but a recently published document, taken from writings held at the Louis Armstrong House and Archives at Queens College/CUNY, is thought to be the beginnings of it. It begins: “The first time that I smoked Marijuana (or) Gage as they so beautifully calls’ it some time, was a couple of years after I had left Flecther Henderson’s Orchestra…And I’m telling you, I had myself a Ball…That’s why it really puzzles me to see Marijuana connected with Narcotics–Dope and all that kind of crap…It is actually a shame.

An LA-based trumpet player who toured with Armstrong told me in January 2007 that Louis told him he once ran into Richard Nixon at an airport in Japan. Nixon said, “Hi Pops, can I do anything for you?” and Louis, who had his gage in his case, asked Nixon to carry it for him. Both Armstrong and Nixon toured Japan in 1953. Just afterwards, Lucille Armstrong was arrested for carrying what was widely speculated to be Louis’s stash.

The incident prompted Armstrong to write, and record, a letter to Glaser from San Francisco. “Can you imagine anyone giving Lucille all of those headaches and grief over a mere small pittance such as gage, something that grows out in the backyard among the chickens and so forth,” Louis emoted in his letter. “I just won’t carry on with such fear over nothing and I don’t intend to ever stop smoking it, not as long as it grows. And there is no one on this earth that can ever stop it all from growing. No one but Jesus–and he wouldn’t dare. Because he feels the same way that I do about it.”

Louis bounced back, joking he’d “get higher next time” on a “What’s My Line?” appearance shortly thereafter. In High Society, the musical version of The Phildelphia Story co-starring Louis’s buddy and VIP Bing Crosby, Louis sings the title song, at one point possibly pantomiming rolling a joint.

Sources:
Louis Armstrong in His Own Words, Oxford University Press, 1999
Satchmo: The Genius of Louis Armstrong, Gary Giddins, 1988
What a Wonderful World Ricky Riccardi, 2012

VeryImportantPotheads.com VIP Louis Armstrong ( August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971 ) Louis Armstrong was first turned onto marijuana in the mid-1920s, and he smoked it all his life, including

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Louis Armstrong

Grass Is Greener

Marijuana

A new documentary launched on streaming service, Netflix, featuring Snoop Dogg, Damian Marley, Steven Hager, and B-Real discovers the roots of marijuana in the United States, why it was banned and the future of where the decriminalization of the drug is taking the country.

As Jazz music started to spread across American states, mainly New Orleans, with it came the widespread use of marijuana. At the time, the drug was perfectly legal but thanks to Harry Jacob Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the drug was outlawed in all states.

It was widely believed that Anslinger was racist and tried to outlaw the drug which was popular amongst many black American Jazz musicians, and fans. Even going to the length of creating propaganda surrounding the drug, claiming murders were committed and young white women were being forced into prostitution because of the harmless green leaf.

Louis Armstrong was among one of the most popular Jazz musicians of the time and was open about his use of marijuana. He was also one of the first celebrities to be arrested for smoking a joint. By the 1920s, some states had begun to outlaw marijuana uses, including California. In 1930, Louis Armstrong was famously arrested outside the Cotton Club, where he was performing, for smoking a joint.

Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author of ‘On the Road With Bob Dylan’, and ‘Reefer Madness: The History of Marijuana in America’ reads one of Louis Armstrong’s personal letters where he explains his desire to his manager to acquire a permit that allows him to smoke marijuana anywhere in the United States without the fear of being arrested.

Sloman goes on to read an excerpt from Louis letter:

“I’m not so particular about having a permit to carry a gun, all I want is a permit to carry that good shit, you must see to it that I have special permission to smoke all the reefers that I want to, when I want or I will just have to put this horn down. I can afford to be tense, fearing that at any minute I could be arrested and brought to jail”

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. SkГҐl!

. people just like you all over the world make our work possible. Without you, we would not be able to keep our journalism open and free. Your support is vital in keeping our publication independent.

Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable for our future. Please consider contributing to our passion.

. people just like you all over the world make our work possible. Without you, we would not be able to keep our journalism open and free. Your support is vital in keeping our publication independent.

Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable for our future. Please consider contributing to our passion.

It was widely believed that Anslinger was racist and tried to outlaw the drug which was popular amongst many black American Jazz musicians, and fans. Even going to the length of creating propaganda surrounding the drug, claiming murders were committed and young white women were being forced into prostitution because of the harmless green leaf. ]]>