Producer: Michael Kapp
Track listing: Hello, Dolly! / It’s Been a Long, Long Time / A Lot of Livin’ to Do /A Kiss to Build a Dream On / Someday / Hey, Look Me Over / I Still Get Jealous / Moon River / Be My Life’s Companion / Blueberry Hill / You Are Woman, I Am Man / Jeepers Creepers
June 13, 1964
A month before the original cast album of Hello, Dolly! ended the Beatles’ two-album, 16-week run on top of the album chart, Louis Armstrong’s interpretation of “Hello, Dolly!” broke the Fab Four’s 14-week run at the top on the Hot 100 single chart. For Armstrong it was a long-overdue triumph that made it possible to record what would be his first charting album in nearly a decade.
Although there is some debate over his birthday (Armstrong liked to claim he was born on July 4, 1900, but a birth certificate unearthed after his death revealed he was actually born on August 4, 1901), few could debate the fact that Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was one of the most important figures in jazz, pop, and a significant influence on rock ‘n’ roll. Even in his recording debut in April of 1923 as a sideman for the King Oliver band, Armstrong blew his way into the spotlight, playing the cornet with a force and clarity few could match.
According to producer Michael Kapp, Armstrong got the green light to record Hello, Dolly! after the success of Andy Williams his single of the same name. Says Kapp, “We had to record it in Las Vegas between Louis’s dates at the Riviera.” Although Armstrong was a living legend when the album was recorded, Kapp says “he was a pussycat to work with.”
Armstrong was still a masterful musician at the time of the recording, but Kapp says his age was starting to catch up with him. “He needed eight bars between singing the chorus to get the instrument back up to his lips, but he could still play like no one else,” he recalls.
While Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” single proved to be the hit version, hitting Number One on the Hot 100, the Original Cast album topped the album chart first, only to be knocked out by Armstrong’s album of the same name. Of course Armstrong’s version of “Hello, Dolly!” was decidedly different from Carol Channing’s take. His famed gruff voice accompanied by banjo and brass made Jerry Herman’s tune swing like it had never swung before. Armstrong ever named-dropped himself into the opening lines of the song for good measure.
Hello, Dolly! wasn’t the only Broadway show Armstrong mined. The album also includes jazzy takes of “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from Bye Bye Birdie, “Hey Look Me Over” from Wildcat, “I Still Get Jealous” from High Button Shoes, and even the Henry Mancini-Johnny Mercer classic “Moon River” from the film soundtrack to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
While Armstrong had enjoyed chart success during his lengthy career with such albums as Satch Plays Fats, his tribute to Fats Waller, which climbed to number 10 in 1955, and Ella and Louis, featuring Ella Fitzgerald, which peaked at number 12 in 1956, Hello, Dolly! marked a career high point. He died seven years later on July 6, 197 but his music still lives today.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of June 13, 1964
1. Hello, Dolly!, Louis Armstrong
2. Funny Girl, Original Cast
3. Hello, Dolly!, Original Cast
A. The Beatles’ Second Album ,The Beatles
5. Call Me Irresponsible and Other Hit Songs, Andy Williams