Louis Armstrong Once Tricked A US Vice President Into Carrying Bags Of Marijuana Through Customs
Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), was a celebrated American trumpeter and vocalist and is among the most influential figures in jazz circles. He is among the first black entertainers to become successful among white audiences during the era of segregation.
He was nicknamed “Satchmo” because of his big satchel-like mouth. His career spanned five decades and different eras in the history of jazz.
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Louis was font of marijuana
Probably one of the lesser known things about him was his special fondness for marijuana, which he developed in the mid-1920s, and he smoked all his life.
Louis Armstrong and drummer Vic Berton were once nabbed for smoking marijuana outside the Cotton Club in Culver City, California in November 1930. They spent the night in a police cell, laughing uncontrollably since they were still high. However, the laughter ended the following morning when they were fined $1,000 dollars each.
Louis was a goodwill ambassador with bags full of marijuana
In the 50’s, when the US State Department was sending African-American writers, artists, musicians and sports figures as Goodwill Ambassadors, Louis Armstrong was also sent on a concert tour around Europe and Asia.
Because of his ambassadorial status, when he returned from the first two tours he was just waved through customs without his bags searched.
However, fate was against him when he landed at Idlewild Airport in New York in 1958. He was made to join the customs lines. He joined a long line of normal travelers that were about to be inspected.
Too bad, he was carrying three pounds of marijuana in his suitcase.
Along came Vice President Richard Nixon
While Satchmo was waiting in line with his satchel of marijuana to be inspected, Vice President Richard Nixon showed up, followed by reporters and photographers.
Nixon saw Armstrong in the line and immediately asked the goodwill ambassador what he was doing there waiting in the line. Satchmo told him how he was just coming back from his goodwill ambassador tour of Asia and was told to stand in the line for customs.
Vice President Richard Nixon argued that ambassadors didn’t have to go through customs and chivalrously offered to carry his bags. Of course, Satchmo was glad to have a drug mule in the highest office.
So Nixon unknowingly smuggled Satchmo’s suitcase with three pounds of marijuana in it through customs. How ironic that the father of the War on Drugs was once an African-American jazzman’s drug mule.
Later, when told what had really happened, Nixon just exclaimed “Louis smokes marijuana?”
Yes boss. And you smuggled it for him.