Monday, June 8, 2015


The WannaBeatles, in our continual exploration of Beatles history, come across some interesting facts along the way.

When it comes to history, certain dates stand out above others:
October 1492 - Columbus discovers America. 
July 1776 - Declaration of Independence. 
February 1964 - Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

And that appearance on Ed Sullivan sparked a record-breaking flurry of Beatles hits, starting with "I Want To Hold Your Hand." 

After seven weeks at number one, it was replaced by "She Loves You," number one for two weeks. Then came "Can't Buy Me Love," number one for five weeks. 

America was in love with the Beatles.

And then, the inevitable: the streak of number ones was broken. On May 9, 1964, the first record to replace a Beatles song at number one was another record breaking artist and song - Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly." 

It was Armstrong's first number one, and set another record for the oldest artist to hit the top spot. 

Louis Armstrong

WannaBeatle Nathan has been working at Temple Baptist Church for much longer than he's been a WannaBeatle. Working there, he met local trumpeter Freddie Holt, who happens to do a Louis Armstrong impersonation. 

Freddie Holt

Our annual show at Crockett Park is our opportunity to try something different. Last year we invited a choir from Christ Presbyterian Academy onstage with us to perform a Beatles medley. We also had Buddy Burris and Brenda Morley from the Nashville Brass Band playing trumpets with us on "Magical Mystery Tour." 

The year before that we had American Idol finalist Rachael Hale sing with us. 

Nathan suggested Freddie as this year's featured guest. We asked him, and he accepted. 

So we've been rehearsing "Hello, Dolly," with WannaBeatle Dennis doing his magic by playing the banjo part on his MIDI-equipped guitar. It's nothing like a Beatles song, but it's totally fun to play.

The collision at the top of the charts, in hindsight, seems like a beautiful gesture by Fate. In terms of lasting influence, Satchmo (Armstrong's most famous nickname) and The Beatles are probably the two most significant musical forces of the twentieth century. 

No one expected Armstrong to hit the top of the charts in 1964, but it became a great reminder of his contribution over the previous four decades. 

It would be impossible to trace the history of jazz without his seminal work of the 1920's and 30's. In a sense, Louis Armstrong represents the birth of American music, as a distinct idiom. 

And it would be impossible to imagine The Beatles emerging without the rock'n'roll music of the 1950's which inspired them. What connects the two is the lesser known story of how jazz prepared the way for rock. The connection from Charlie Christian to Chuck Berry is not hard to follow, for those who care to trace the lineage. 

We can leave that discussion to the scholars. What The WannaBeatles have before us is a wonderful song to play, and a great way to remember the guy who knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts. 

Our Crockett Park concert is June 28. Bring a picnic blanket, and a cooler with some New Orleans food. 

bloggin' bryan 8jun15

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