Beating The Beatles!

It happened this week 57 years ago in 1964 when The Beatles were “dethroned” by an aging Trumpet player ! Following the ascension of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to #1 in early February, the Beatles held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for three and a half months—longer than any popular artist before or since. Over the course of those months, the Fab Four earned three consecutive #1 singles (a record); held all five spots in the top five in early April (a record); and had a total of 14 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-April (yet another record). But just when it seemed that no homegrown act would ever stand up to the British invaders, one of the least likely American artist’s imaginable proved himself equal to the task. On May 9, 1964, the great Louis Armstrong, age 63, broke the Beatles’ stranglehold on the U.S. pop charts with his  #1 hit “Hello Dolly.”

In a way, it was entirely appropriate that a titan such as Louis Armstrong would be the artist to end the reign of the first foreign group ever to take over the American pop scene. It can be argued, after all, that Armstrong bears more responsibility for shaping the course of 20th-century American music than Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra combined. Louis Armstrong became one of jazz music’s first individual superstars as a young trumpet player in the 1920s and 30s, but more than that, he revolutionized jazz itself by turning it into an individual improvisational art form. The recordings Armstrong made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven combos between 1925 and 1927 are widely credited with creating much of the foundation for the future of jazz and blues performance and, by extension, of rock and roll. Armstrong’s own statement that “if it hadn’t been for jazz, there wouldn’t be no rock and roll,” was effectively endorsed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Armstrong as an “early influencer” in 1990.

Of course it wasn’t Louis Armstrong the young revolutionary, but Louis Armstrong the late-career light entertainer who knocked the Beatles from the top of the pops. By the early 1960s, Armstrong’s most important and influential work was already behind him, yet his famous charisma and ebullient personality were still enough to lift a show tune like “Hello Dolly” to the #1 spot on the pop charts—and over the Beatles—This week in 1964!

Lastly, we loved Louie! How about you ?

Of course, here’s Louis:

You’re welcome!









  1. I remember it well. Everybody had a Satchmo impersonation. Hell, I still do him once and awhile….It was most refreshing to hear him doing ‘Hello Dolly’ after those British accents. Blowing his horn and wiping the sweat off his face. He was an icon..

    • Hey Curtis!
      Next time we get together, I’m buying! provided YOU PERFORM YOUR IMPRESSION OF “”Satchmo” Deal?
      Meanwhile, just in case you were wondering, here’s what I know about the origin of the nickname “Satchmo “
      Louis was initially nicknamed “Satchel Mouth” by the editor of Melody Maker magazine! He said “Louis, when you blow your horn your moth looks like a huge Satchel! Louis liked it and it naturally evolved to “Satchmo” Louis liked the nickname so much he used it on many of his early records… I.e. “Hello Dolly by “Satchmo” Louis was such a cool guy!
      Thanx Curtis

  2. Rick, indeed, Louis was a star then and his “What a Wonderful World” would grace the easy listening charts and radio for over 20 weeks in 1968 and is a staple of music today after “Good Morning Vietnam” too. WABC played the heck outta “Dolly” in 1964 and it stayed in the nation’s #1 top 40 station’s TOP 10 from April thru June, flip flopping twice at #1 with “Do You Want to Know a Secret” at this time. Hats off to Satchmo!

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