Louis Armstrong

July 23, 1957 – Louis and Ella Together in Los Angeles

On July 23, 1957, jazz giants Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded ten songs for their new album from Verve Records, Ella and Louis Again.  In one remarkable day, backed up by a stellar band including Oscar Peterson on piano, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Louis Bellson on drums, Louis and Ella put their individual vocal talents and Louis’ trumpet mastery to work in what must have been a marathon session.  Together, they recorded Love is Here to Stay, Learnin’ the Blues, Autumn in New York, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, They All Laughed, Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You?, and Stompin’ At the Savoy.  With the same backup band, Ella recorded These Foolish Things, Comes Love, and Ill Wind.  Ella was forty that day and reaching the peak of her career at the Verve label, which her agent, Norman Grantz, created around her.  Louis was 55, with many records and over thirty films to already to his credit.

Image Credit: Verve Records

October 13, 1957 – The Edsel Show Broadcast

Louis Armstrong; Frank Sinatra; Rosemary Clooney; Bing Crosby. Photo: CBS

On October 13, 1957, CBS aired a live (on the East Coast) broadcast of The Edsel Show, essentially a one hour “infomercial” promoting the recently released-but-doomed new Ford Motor Company brand.  The broadcast is now primarily famous not for the car, and not for the impressive list of musical talent involved, but for the fact that it is the oldest surviving television show on videotape (made for the three-hour air delay on the West Coast).

Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra hosted the star-studded evening which included musical performances by Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, “mystery guest” Bob Hope, and the Norman Luboff Choir.  The Edsel Show, a one-time special, replaced CBS’s usual Sunday night powerhouse, The Ed Sullivan Show.  “Edsel: The Show”, as opposed to “Edsel: The Car”, was ironically one of the year’s most successful and popular broadcasts.  The show served as Bing Crosby’s television breakthrough, after which he signed a two-special-a-year, highly-compensated contract with ABC.

The real star – the car! Photo: CBS

Rosemary Clooney reported in her autobiography, Girl Singer, an amusing (or embarrassing) moment on the day of the show.  “The only Edsel I ever saw was one they gave me to drive while I was rehearsing.  I came out of the CBS Building, up those little steps to the street where my purple Edsel was waiting, like the Normandie in drydock.  Mr. Ford was right behind me, heading for his Edsel.  I opened the door of my car and the handle came off.  I turned to him, holding it out to him.  “About your car . . . .”