Benny Goodman

One of the most popular and influential bandleaders in America, Benny Goodman was not merely a brilliant clarinetist, he was a jazz legend widely credited as "the king of swing". Born in Chicago - the ninth of 12 children born to Jewish immigrants who met in America - his Polish father, a tailor, and his mother, a Lithuanian, were poor and struggled to bring up their family. At ten Goodman was given music lessons at the local synagogue and he became heavily influenced by New Orleans jazz clarinetists he saw in Chicago clubs. At 16 he joined his first band, the Ben Pollack Orchestra, making his first recordings with them in 1926. He released his first record Vocation under his own name in 1928, after which he moved to New York, going on to record with Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Joe Venuti in the All-Star Orchestra. In 1935 Goodman won a spot on Let's Dance, a networked TV show featuring various styles of dance music and engaged the services of Afro-American bandleader Fletcher Henderson to arrange "hot swing" tunes. It resulted in the classic King Porter Stomp backed with Sometimes I'm Happy, which triggered the jitterbug dance craze, and Goodman became known as king of the swing era. He later adopted a bebop style and later still moved into classical music, with acclaimed recordings of Bela Bartok's Contrasts, Malcolm Arnold's Clarinet Concerto No 2 and Igor Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto. He also appeared in the movies Hollywood Hotel (1938), Syncopation (1942), The Powers Girl (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), Sweet & Lowdown (1944) and A Song Is Born (1948); and his own life story was subsequently told in The Benny Goodman Story (1955). He continued to perform until his death from a heart attack at the age of 77 in 1986.

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Stations Featuring Benny Goodman

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