60s Music

Laurie London — The 13-Year Old Boy with a Big Hit in His Hands

Laurie LondonIntroduction

Englishman Laurie London has been best known as a child crooner of the upbeat version of the spiritual tune “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” It is his only hit single. He also recorded in German, especially when he took part singing “Bum Ladda Bum Bum” in German Hit Festival in 1959. Followed by sporadic music appearances London eventually left the music industry. He presently owns and manages a pub in North London.

Laurie London’s road to fleeting fame

Laurie London is an English singer and actor born Lawrence London in Bethnal Green in East London, England on January 19, 1944.

Laurie London was then a thirteen-year-old pupil who was studying at the Davenant Foundation Grammar School in Whitechapel Road. But even at his tender age he already possessed the confidence and showmanship of a veteran performer. He first appeared in a closed-circuit transmission of 6.5 Special at the BBC at the 1958 Radio Show. Producer John Warrinton caught his performance and was so impressed that London was invited back to perform daily. London also caught the attention of EMI Records who sent him to the studio.

It was also at this age where recorded his up-tempo version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (composed by Obie Phillis). He was backed up by the Geoff Love Orchestra, and the recording was produced by Norman Newell. The record was then released on Parlophone Records and then distributed in the United States by its co-owned American sister imprint Capitol Records.

 

London’s only hit single “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”

In London’s own native country, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” reached #12 on the national charts in 1958. But when the record reached America, it became even a bigger hit. “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957 (some sources say that it reached #2 on Billboard and remained in that position for four weeks). It also reached to its peak position at #3 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. The song was also voted number one by most disc jockeys, and number two in retail sales.

The fame that London was attaining was too much that it forced him to quit school. His father Will also relinquished his sales management job to be his son’s manager. However, London said no to a chance of a 1958 US tour, which would be really too much for an adolescent boy.

Other recordings and performances, retirement and post-showbiz careers

However, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was to be London’s only hit and charting single. He would never have another hit again either in the US or the UK. But at least, in the pre-Beatles era, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was the most successful record by a British male singer in the US.

London also got to sing in German. For instance, he took part in “Deutsches Schlager-Festival” (German Hit Festival) belting out “Bum Ladda Bum Bum.” He also has singing credits in the 1961 German film Und Du, mein Schatz, bleibst hier (“And you, my darling, stay there”).

London got to record several albums mostly released in Europe, as well as other pop and gospel singles such as “Joshua,” “The Gospel Train” and “I Gotta Robe.” He also released one full-length LP on Capitol. His other singles — such as his cover of Cliff Richard’s hit “Lucky Lips” and “The Bells of St. Mary” (released on CBS label) — did not chart.

But at the age of only nineteen, he officially retired from show business. Except for a very few smattering of appearances, he was virtually out of the public eye. He worked in the clothing business, then managed a hotel during the 1990s, and currently is reported to manage a pub in North London, where he currently resides.

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