5 Previously Unheard Recordings of Louis Armstrong at the BBC Studios Will Be Released

Louis Armstrong holding his trumpet

Photo: Herbert Behrens / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Louis Armstrong is one of the most important musicians in the jazz history. With a career that spanned five decades, Armstrong left a mark with his soulful trumpet playing and gravelly voice. In July 1968, Armstrong gave what many consider his last great performance at the BBC studios in London. Unfortunately, some of the recordings were never available to the public—until now. Verve Records has announced a 13-track album titled Louis in London, which includes five unreleased tracks.

In this historical performance, Armstrong appeared alongside his renowned band, The All-Stars. There, he played some of his most popular songs, such as “Hello, Dolly!,” “The Bare Necessities,” and “Mack the Knife.” The show was first broadcast on September 22, 1968. “From the moment Armstrong received a copy of the 1968 London recording, he became determined for the world to hear this music, affixing a note to the outside of the tape box on which he wrote, ‘For The Fan,'” reads a statement from the Verve Records.

The true jewel of this new live album is the list of previously unheard recordings—”You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “(Back Home Again) In Indiana,” “Blueberry Hill,” “Ole Miss,” and “What a Wonderful World.” The last two songs, in particular, have special meaning to Armstrong fans. “Ole Miss,” written by blues composer W.C. Handy, is the first song he’s known to have played in public; whereas, the BBC Studios performance of “What a Wonderful World” took place weeks after his original recording earned the No.1 spot on the UK charts.

“For me it captures the last hurrah,” Ricky Riccardi, director of research collections for the Louis Armstrong House museum, says about the Louis Armstrong BBC Studios performance. “It is Armstrong singing, entertaining and doing it all at a very high level.” It was Riccardi who suggested this title to Verve Recordings when asked about an archival show that could be reissued.

Armstrong was said to be so proud of this performance that he sent copies to friends and played them at home whenever he had guests. “Though he could have chosen any number of remarkable recordings, including his iconic collaborations with Ella Fitzgerald, he instead returned again and again to the BBC session from the summer of 1968,” says Verve Recordings.

Louis in London will be released on July 12, 2024. The performance was also captured in high quality video, showing the joy the legendary musician felt during this time. You can watch his rendition of “Hello, Dolly!” below.

Five previously unheard recordings from Louis Armstrong's BBC Studios show, considered his last great performance, will soon be released.

Louis Armstrong holding his trumpet

Photo: Harry Warnecke and Gus Schoenbaechler via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

The 13-track album titled Louis in London, which comes out on July 12, 2024, captures the show Armstrong and his band gave at the BBC studios in 1968.

Louis Armstrong holding his trumpet

Photo: World-Telegram staff photographer via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Watch Armstrong perform “Hello, Dolly!” at the BBC Studios below.

h/t: [The Guardian]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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