Throwback: Louis Armstrong-What A Wonderful World


Louis Armstrong was the first artist to record Bob Thiele and George David Weiss’ “What A Wonderful World” in 1967. Weiss was inspired to write the song specifically for Armstrong because of his ability to attract a multi-racial audience. Larry Newton who was the president of ABC Records tried to stop the recording session for “What A Wonderful World” because he felt the song’s pace was too slow. He believed the song needed to be at a faster tempo like Armstrong’s previous recording of “Hello Dolly” which went to number one in the UK. Newton was kept out of the studio because of this disruption and his anger over this ban resulted in him not promoting the song when it came out in 1967.

“What A Wonderful World” made the number one position on the UK Singles Chart and was the most-sold single of 1968. Armstrong became the oldest male to top the UK Singles Chart at age 67. The jazz artist was in the fifth decade of his career and had long been established as a foundational artist of the genre. His trumpet-playing, scat singing and composing pioneered the role of the jazz soloist, influenced melody and phrasing and produced jazz multiple standards. “What A Wonderful World” has become a pop classic and was famously used in the movies Good Morning, Vietnam and 12 Monkeys. Despite having been covered by numerous artists including Stevie Wonder, Jon Batiste, Rod Stewart and Tony Bennett Louis Armstrong’s version is still the most referenced one in 2023. The Fugees, Ghostface Killah and A Guy Called Gerald have all sampled “What A Wonderful World.” In 2022, the documentary Louis Armstrong’s Black And Blues was released via Apple+ TV.