Thursday, September 25, 2014

Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky was one of the great bandleaders of the 20th century. All time great clarinetist, gorgeous tone and vibrato. Intelligent, articulate and sometimes controversial he learned music at 15 and worked local jobs. He was on and off with Austin Wylie’s band in 1927 through 1929. Later Austin Wylie managed Artie Shaw’s band 1941-1942. Artie joined Irving Aaronson’s orchestra in 1929. After he left Aaronson Artie played with Red Nichols, Paul Specht, Vincent Lopez and Roger Wolfe Kahn. He was on the radio often in early to mid 1930s. Artie left music in 1934-35 to live on a farm and tried to write a book. In 1936 he formed his own band. In 1938, he had a big hit with his recording of the Cole Porter song “Begin the Beguine”. Artie was not happy playing the same music over and over. He is quoted as saying, “That record that they liked Begin the Beguine became a millstone an albatross around my neck”.

Artie featured vocalist Billie Holiday awhile. Helen Forrest was another of his excellent vocalist. Tony Pastor was featured on novelty and rhythm tunes and hot tenor sax solos. Drummer Buddy Rich sparked the rhythm section. Artie’s theme was the mournful musical composition Nightmare, which was a showcase for his clarinet. In 1939 the band did a movie Dnncing Co-Ed staring Lana Turner and Richard Carlson. Artie married Lana Turner, one of eight beautiful wives. At the height of his success he abruptly left the band and went to Mexico to rest. In the spring of 1940 he returned with a new band including a string section and had a big hit Frenesi. Another big hit in 1940 Star Dust, Moonglow in 1941.

Artie enlisted in the navy in 1942 and led an outstanding band. He was given a medical discharge in 1944. Up to 1955 Artie led various bands, then gave up playing and lived in Spain from 1955 to 59. In 1952 he wrote his autobiography The Trouble with Cinderella. In 1965 he wrote three novellas under the title I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead!. In 2004 Artie received a lifetime achievement award from the recording academy. He died December 30, 2004, age 94 at his Newbury Park home from complications related to diabetes. Artie is quoted as saying “shoot for the moon – if you miss you’ll end up in the stars”.

Good documentary on Artie Shaw

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