Friday, March 5, 1982

50 years ago: Louis Armstrong hit #1 with “All of Me”

All of Me

Louis Armstrong

Writer(s): Seymour Simons, Gerald Marks (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 20, 1932

Peak: 12 US, 14 GA (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2.27 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Detroit songwriters Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons wrote this jazz standard in 1931. The pair met when Marks was playing with a band at a summer resort in Lake Michigan. Simons, who’d written the hit “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze” a few years earlier, was impressed with a new song Marks played on the piano between sets and, with Marks’ blessing, added lyrics to it. SF The song featured a broken-hearted narrator who can’t imagine how to move on from his ex, singing, “You took the part that once was my heart, so why not take all of me?” SF

Marks and Simons couldn’t get anyone to publish the song, but offered it to vaudeville star Belle Baker who’d introduced “Blue Skies” in 1926. SF She performed it onstage at the Motor City’s Fisher Theatre. JS The song became a hit when the national press picked up on a story that Baker, who’d just lost her husband, broke down crying while performing the song. JS She then performed it on the radio in New York, SF thus introducing it to a wider audience.

On December 1 of that year, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra recorded the song with Mildred Bailey on vocals. Their version went to #1 and was quickly followed by another chart-topping version by Louis Armstrong – the highest ranked version in Dave’s Music Database. Others to chart with the song included Ben Selvin (#19, 1932), Count Basie (#14, 1943), Frank Sinatra (#21, 1948), Johnny Ray (#12, 1952), PM and Willie Nelson (#3 country, 1978). Eric Clapton, Bing Crosby, Ruth Etting, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, and Sarah Vaughn also recorded the song. SF It was featured in the movies Careless Lady (1932), Meet Danny Wilson (1952), and All of Me (1984).

Critic Ted Gioia says the definitive version is by Billie Holiday in 1941: “She staked a claim of ownership that no one has managed to dislodge in subsequent years.” WK Legendary Columbia producer John Hammond, who discovered Holiday, was listening to her version when he died in 1987. SF


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Last updated 3/20/2023.

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