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Dylan’s deep personal and artistic friendship with Johnny Cash is well known to music fans. So is his love for the work of Jimmie Rodgers, The Singing Brakeman from Meridian, Mississippi, sometimes called the father of country music. Everybody loves Louis Armstrong; Dylan aired no fewer than six Armstrong records in the first season of Theme Time Radio Hour. It’s all part of Dylan’s eclecticism. Except that, often enough, the wide range of artists he admires surprisingly had a great deal in common themselves.
On July 16, 1930, Armstrong played trumpet backing Rodgers in a recording session in Hollywood that featured Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel Number 9.” Forty years later, Cash invited Armstrong on his television show, broadcast from Nashville, and they recreated that session, with the help of pianist Bill Walker.
Armstrong played with all his might in what would be one of his last public performances. He died less than nine months later.