“The sweetest music this side of Heaven…” Louis Armstrong (BBC’s 30 minute 1968 interview)

Louis Armstrong

Growing up on the other side of the pond, we were not exposed to Jazz and unfortunately never really came across such greats as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong. In the mid nineties, I was working in the movie industry when Erik Henry, a visual effects supervisor (we met on one of the Aliens movies), brought Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong’s first collaboration on LP to listen to – I was floored. I immediately set out to buy as much Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong individual albums as I could lay my hands on. In Satchmo’s own words: “The sweetest music this side of Heaven…” 

On May 9, 1964 Louis Armstrong went No. 1 on the US singles chart with his tune Hello Dolly. Being No. 1 on the charts made him the oldest artist to achieve this feat (he was 62). That record was not beat until 2011, when 85-year-old Tony Bennett broke this record when his duets album topped the US album chart.

I have always found Louis Armstrong’s enthusiasm to be infectious, though I had only heard snippets in various live performances. So you can imagine my delight on discovering that the BBC had a 30 minute 1968 interview, as part of the Desert Island Discs. Here is a performer who was supremely comfortable with himself, he includes five of his own albums in the eight album collection. His book choice was his own autobiography and not surprisingly his choice of luxury was a trumpet.

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