One of the most significant, and yet, least recalled or spoken about visits to Rhodesia was that by the legendary trumpeter and singer, Louis Armstrong.  The fact that he chose to visit the country at the time that he did was, in itself, Satchmoquite amazing. If this visit had taken today amidst the change political and social background of the country or region, the tour would have made global headlines and tens of thousands would have attended the shows.  Back in the 1960’s, however, things were a little different…

The Salisbury concert was staged at the Showgrounds which later became Glamis Stadium.  The entire area had been ring-fenced and an earthen mound had been placed, similarly, around the circumference of the ground, presumably for crowd control and security reasons.  The crowd, almost exclusively made up of Blacks, were in jovial mood, excited that such a famed world renowned entertainer of their race was visiting the country.  The size of the crowd was fairly modest, with some estimates being as low as 300.  Satchmo and his entourage entered from a  marquee situated behind the stage to a quiet ripple of applause.  With the night being as warm as it was, Satchmo led his band through a full two hour concert featuring all the famous jazz standards, regularly pausing to mop his sweating brow from a heap of handkerchiefs he had at his disposal.  At the end of the concert he led his players back off the stage, in a line, to the marquee from which they had emerged a couple of hours before.  The applause was polite but under-stated.  Some reports of the day suggest that there had been racial incidents or tension in the grounds, however, it is not known what the extent of this was.

Satchmo performed in Salisbury on 16 November, 1960, and in Bulawayo the following night.  The Bulawayo concert was staged at Queen’s Cricket Ground with the entertainers accommodated on a stage, four or five feet above normal ground level.  Stages were not professionally assembled as they are today, and the entire structure was covered with a huge piece of tarpaulin to provide shelter from the elements.  The turnout was phenomenal with the predominantly Black audience packed into the grounds.  Having said this, there was a significant presences of Whites within the ranks of the spectators.  When Satchmo stepped out onto the stage he received rapturous applause, confiding in people involved in the production that he had much preferred the Bulawayo concert to the one in Salisbury.  At the time Satchmo was beyond his prime and seemed to have felt the effects of performing at high altitude.   His set included great jazz songs such as “Mack The Knife”, “When The Saints Go Marching In”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, “A Kiss To Build A Dream On” and “High Society”.