Occasionally two exceptional people meet. By chance of time and location their paths cross and they get it together and the world changes. Some things were just meant to be; so it was when Harry met Louise. Harry Lillis Crosby and Louis Daniel Armstrong Better known, and loved the world over by their nicknames; Bing (was originally Bingo) and Satchmo (originally Satchel Mouth.) Let's go back to Chicago of the 1920's. Al Capone ruled the streets but it was Louis Armstrong that ruled the music scene. Scat was all the rage and Armstrong was fronting at The Sunset Cafe, a Capone club in the black quarter of the city, frequented by the elite of the white musicians like Hoagy Carmichael and Tommy Dorsey. Crosby was in Chicago meeting up to clinch a deal with band leader Paul Whiteman.
It was Whiteman who first introduced the two men. A partnership and friendship was born that would last throughout their lives. They collaborated on many occasions, recording, radio, films and later television. It was at Crosby's insistence that Armstrong was given top billing in Pennies From Heaven in 1936. For the first time a black artist was allowed higher billing that white artists and Satchmo had crossed the divide. When that small number of people put their love of music above prevailing prejudice a fusion occurred and soul, rhythm and blues blended with popular and the road to rock and roll was started.
They were brothers and called each other so, they shared, cared and respected one another. Crosby said Armstrong was the greatest singer there ever was or would be. When asked about it he relied:
“It’s so simple, when he sings a sad song you cry and when he sings a happy song you laugh. What the hell else is there in popular music?” Above all they had fun and revelled in each others company.
Bing was one of the pal bearers that carried Armstrong's coffin when he died in 1971. Other notables included Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. I'm sure the Brother from Tacoma, Washington grieved for his Brother from New Orleans, Louisiana. The world did. Bing died 6 years later.