May 30, 1909
June 13, 1986
Place of Birth:
Benny Goodman was one of America's foremost band leaders and became known as the
King of Swing
As a youth, Goodman was subjected to relatively hard times as his father, although a tailor, had to work hard labor to make ends meet.
Goodman's father encouraged his three sons to learn music by playing in the local synagogue's band.
Goodman became more proficient and his father supported him in receiving further advanced lessons.
He dropped out of school at 14 and by 16 was part of the
Ben Pollack Band
which gave him actual recording experience.
In 1929, Goodman became a freelance musician in New York mainly to gain additional experience in the music field.
Such work threw him in contacts with other musicians such as Glenn Miller, Ted Lewis, and Billie Holiday.
Goodman decided to form his own dance band and in 1934 was contracted to play at Billy Rose's Music Hall.
In August, 1935, the band played a dance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles where the "swing" type performance was acclaimed.
Goodman developed a reputation as a distinctive clarinet soloist whose style of music stood out in the swing era.
Over the next decade, he played with many outstanding musicians and his songs often made the Top Ten list.
A Carnegie Hall concert given on January 16, 1938, by his band and other selective artists was warmly received and is considered a significant date in the recognition of jazz music.
Goodman featured both black and white artists proving music went beyond the race issues at the time.
Over the 40's and into the 50's, Goodman-led bands and smaller groups solidified the jazz and big band sounds with many Top Ten hits.
Benny Goodman used his clarinet to make a significant contribution to the history of American music and was inducted in 1963 as a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Just The Swing
Touch of Tonga
Red Hot Jazz
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Last Updated: January 20, 2017
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