On May 9, 1964, 63-year-old Louis Armstrong ended the reign of the Beatles on the U.S. pop charts. It would be expected that a star such as Armstrong would be the one to end the dominance of a foreign group that had ‘hijacked’ the American pop scene.
The British group, The Beatles, had emerged and given America’s generation something to talk about. The Beatles enabled America’s younger generation to differentiate themselves from their parents. Apparently, music from The Beatles gave this generation an opportunity to detour from the lifestyle their parents had lived. Around this time, it seemed the U.S. was going through a revolution.
According to many music lovers, Armstrong holds a great responsibility in shaping the direction of the 20th-century American music. In the 1920s and 30s, he was one of jazz’s individual superstars as a young player of the trumpet. In addition, he has been acknowledged for revolutionizing jazz into a single art form. He made it possible to improvise jazz.
Much of the foundation for the future of blues, jazz, and by extension, rock, and roll, are credited to Armstrong recordings. Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven combos between 1925 to1927, formed the foundation for a wide variety of music. In fact, the Rock and Roll hall of fame actively endorsed Armstrong’s statement that rock and roll had emerged from jazz. Armstrong was recognized as an early influencer.
Prior to their displacement, the Beatles had held the top position on the Billboard Hot 100 for three and a half months, which is considered longer than any artist before or after. Their position was largely facilitated by the rise of their hit, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” to number one, in early February 1964. Once the Beatles had ascended to the top, they stayed there with a succession of hits. And they stayed longer than any artist before.
Over the period, the group earned three consecutive number one singles, and held all the five spots in the top five in early April. Both achievements were new records. In addition, the group had 14 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-April, and that was yet another record.
However, Armstrong emerged just when it seemed impossible to ‘overthrow’ the British invaders. As a homegrown musician, Armstrong impressed a multitude of American music lovers
Armstrong broke the Beatles reign with his number one hit “Hello Dolly.” Armstrong had proven that he was equal to the task even though no one expected he would be the American star to ‘overthrow’ the Beatles.
It is reported that when Armstrong got into the studio, he recorded two songs: “Hello Dolly,” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” which was a song from the Broadway musical. People never expected “Hello Dolly” to become a heat, but to their surprise, many fell in love with the song. The song came out in January, when the Beatles were topping the charts, and did not stop ascending until it knocked the Beatles from their spot. That was on May 9, 1964.
Armstrong had knocked the Beatles from the top. By early 1960s, Armstrong had recorded his most influential and most significant work. Even though most of his influential work was behind him, his famous charisma and joyous character were still capable of lifting his works to the top.