Video: Watch Louis Armstrong Sing 5x Platinum Recording of 'What A Wonderful World'

“What a Wonderful World” has been certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA.

By: Jun. 13, 2024
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Ahead of the release of the forthcoming live album LOUIS IN LONDON, Louis Armstrong’s legendary track “What a Wonderful World” has been certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA, marking the original recording’s cumulative US sales of more than 5 million since its first release in 1967. To coincide with this milestone moment, Verve Records is releasing the official performance video of the track.

Inducted to the GRAMMY® Hall of Fame in 1999, “What A Wonderful World” is among the world’s most beloved – and best-selling – standards of all time, with international certifications also including 5x Platinum in Canada; 1.5 Platinum in Germany; and Platinum in the UK, Denmark, Italy, France, and Spain. The new RIAA certification was accepted by fellow trumpeter and President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Wynton Marsalis, on behalf of Louis Armstrong/the Louis Armstrong Estate.

Recorded live at the BBC on July 2, 1968 – just weeks after “What A Wonderful World” hit the #1 spot on the UK charts, later proving the UK’s biggest-selling single that year – LOUIS IN LONDON captures Louis Armstrong on sparkling form in his last great performance. The 13-song collection features 6 previously unreleased tracks, including "(Back Home Again) In Indiana," "You’ll Never Walk Alone," "Ole Miss," and "Blueberry Hill." The album will be released digitally, on CD, and on standard black and exclusive blue vinyl, accompanied by exclusive liner notes by Armstrong’s biographer and Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Ricky Riccardi, on Friday, July 12. Pre-orders are available now - HERE.

From redefining jazz with his revolutionary trumpet playing to singlehandedly inventing popular singing, Louis Armstrong arguably made a greater impact on American popular music than any other single artist before or since. In July 1968, Armstrong and his renowned band, The All-Stars, traveled to England and entered the BBC’s London studios to record a performance, full of vitality and joy, that manifested some of the most inspired singing and trumpet playing of his remarkable career.

Now available in high fidelity audio and video, LOUIS IN LONDON presents Armstrong delivering everything from the first composition he’s known to have played in public – W.C. Handy’s “Ole Miss” – to classic versions of such worldwide hits as “Mack The Knife” and “Hello, Dolly!,” the latter joined by an official video from the BBC performance streaming now on YouTube.

First broadcast on September 22, 1968 as BBC TV’s “Show Of The Week – Louis Armstrong,” the session poignantly proved to be Armstrong’s last great performance. From the moment Armstrong received a copy of the 1968 London recording, he became determined for the world to hear this music, affixed a note to the outside of the tape box on which he wrote, “For The Fans.” Armstrong sent copies of the BBC concert to friends and played them whenever he received visitors. 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. Now, more than five decades since his passing, LOUIS IN LONDON will at long last be officially shared with the world.

“Knowing how badly he wanted his friends and fans to hear this music while he was still alive,” writes Ricky Riccardi in the album’s exclusive liner notes, “it’s a great source of pride to know that it will now be enjoyed by new generations, including many fans who weren’t even alive at the time Armstrong passed, but who are still inspired by his music and his joy.

“Armstrong once claimed he was here ‘in the cause of happiness.’ All these decades later, albums like LOUIS IN LONDON continue his life’s mission at a time when we still need to be reminded that maybe it still is a wonderful world and maybe we’ll never walk alone after all.”

Photo credit: ©BBC Photo Archive


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