Song: “Hello, Dolly!” by Louis Armstrong & The All-Stars
Reached #1: May 9, 1964 (his first, 1 week)
When the Beatles staged their assault on the pop charts in the winter and spring of 1964, I think it’d be safe to say that nobody expected a jazz trumpeter out of New Orleans to be the man to stop it.
Given that this wasn’t even supposed to be a single, it’s even more unlikely.
Louis Armstrong did “Hello, Dolly!” as a favor to his manager, who needed a version of the song in order to help promote Carol Channing’s Broadway musical, which premiered in January 1964. When the musical became a smash hit, Armstrong’s promotional track was rushed out as a single – hitting the Hot 100 just as the Beatles were settling into the #1 spot – becoming the first non-Beatles #1 in the Beatlemania era.
I guess it’s no surprise that this was Armstrong’s only #1 – simply because he generally didn’t record pop music, and because jazz rarely crosses over into the pop charts.
Armstrong’s rare pop forays have been notable – not only did “Hello, Dolly” break the Beatles’ strangehold at #1, “What A Wonderful World” is one of those rare songs that first charted 20 years after its release. Yes, that was also due to another form of entertainment, in this case, the movie Good Morning Vietnam.
Tomorrow, we segue from a jazz legend to a British duo that used jazz as part of their synthpop mix…
Other songs that reached #1 on May 9:
1970 – “American Woman/No Sugar Tonight” by the Guess Who (their first, 3 weeks)