Artie Shaw

The composer and band leader Artie Shaw rose to prominence during the 1930s during the big band era. In 1938, after the release of his version of Cole Porter's 'Begin the Beguine', the clarinettist from New York was launched into the big time. Shaw and his ensemble were suddenly in demand across America and beyond and were frequently performing live radio broadcasts from across the States. During this period Shaw is reported to have been earning $60,000 a week and during his musical career sold over 100 million records. This golden era was brought to an abrupt halt by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (which occured during one of Shaw's performances); realising that the world was about to change Shaw broke up the band and enlisted in the navy. By his own admission he was a difficult man, a characteristic confirmed by his eight marriages. He changed his bands just as often and a job in one of Shaw's many ensembles was inevitably a short term engagement. Shaw was an obsessional perfectionist, a trait which would eventually lead him to give up performing the clarinet not long after he was discharged from the US navy in 1944. He effectively retired from music in 1954 withdrawing from the world of celebrity and began to concentrate on writing books. He eventually retired to live in Europe until returning to the US in the latter part of his life. He died from a diabetes-related illness in 2004 aged 94.

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Stations Featuring Artie Shaw

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