Laurie London was born in 1944, in East London England, and I can’t find anything to imply that that is not his real name. He was about fourteen when he sang this big hit. He actually recorded the song when he was thirteen. He is backed by the Geoff Love Orchestra. The record was recorded on Parlophone Records which was a sister label in England for Capitol in America. Capitol picked it up and released it in America, where it became a number one hit.
“He’s Got the Whole World (In His Hands)” was the most popular British song in the United States for the entire Fifties decade. Of course, that would change drastically in the Sixties as the Beatles invaded America. The song sold over one million copies and earned a gold record from RIAA. It was Laurie London’s only hit, so he was a true One-Hit Wonder.
Laurie kept singing until he was about nineteen and not having any further success, he retired from the business at the ripe old age of nineteen. In the Nineties, he ran a hotel in West Sussex, but sold it in 2000. As far as I can tell, he is still alive and lives in North London today. He would be about 72 today.
The song “He’s Got the Whole World (In His Hands)” is a traditional American spiritual. No one knows who wrote the song originally, but I suspect it dates back to the slavery days of the Civil War. The first time it appears in print was in 1927, when it was included in a hymnal called Spirituals Triumphant..Old and New. It was first collected by Frank Warner, who was a folklorist in the early part of the Twentieth Century. He collected songs that had never been published or were very rare so as to not lose them to history. He rescued songs like “He’s Got the Whole World (In His Hands)” and “Tom Dooley” which was recorded later by the Kingston Trio. Without Warner, we might not have these songs today.
“He’s Got the World World (In His Hands)” entered the American pop chart on March 24, 1958 and remained at number one for four weeks.
Next: “Twilight Time” – The Platters