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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Artie Shaw born 23 May 1910

Artie Shaw (born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky*; May 23, 1910 –

December 30, 2004) was an American clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction.
Artie Shaw was one of the most enigmatic, daring and adventurous bandleaders of the swing-era. An intellectual, he hated public life and the music industry. Over the course of his short career he formed ten orchestras and disbanding most of them after only a few months. He also married eight times, his wives including movie stars Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. 
Raised in Connecticut, Shaw took up the saxophone at an early age and began playing professionally when he was only 14. He left home at 15 for a job in Kentucky. The position never materialized and he was forced to play with traveling orchestras in order to get home. At age 16 he switched to the clarinet and went to Cleveland, where he spent three years playing in local groups, including that of Austin Wylie. 
In 1929 Shaw joined Irving Aaronson's Commanders. While traveling the country with the band he discovered the works of contemporary avant-garde classical composers whose influence

would later surface in his own music. When the Commanders arrived for a gig in New York, Shaw decided to remain. There he freelanced with many of the top artists of the day, including Vincent Lopez, Red Nichols, and Teddy Wilson. He also briefly spent time with Fred Rich's orchestra and toured with Roger Wolfe Kahn. 
In 1934 Shaw became disillusioned with the music industry and quit for the first of what would be many times. He bought a farm in Pennsylvania and tried his hand at being a writer. He soon returned to New York and took up studio work again. He was one of the most successful studio musicians in the city when in 1935 he was asked to lead a small group during intermissions at a swing concert held by the Imperial Theater. He put together an unusual outfit consisting of a string quartet, a rhythm section minus piano, and his clarinet. 
Shaw's unique combination was wildly received by the audience. He was offered financial backing to form his own orchestra, and in 1936 he debut his first dance band, which featured a Dixieland approach and a string quartet. The new group made some impressive recordings but couldn't compete with the brassier swing orchestras of the day, so Shaw disbanded it the following year and formed a more conventional big band.  
His new outfit was a huge success, featuring such musicians as Georgie Auld, Buddy Rich, Tony Pastor, and Jerry Gray. Vocalists included Billie Holiday, Kitty Kallen, Peg LaCentra, and Helen Forrest. In September of 1938 Shaw collapsed on stage due to exhaustion. He was also absent from the band in the summer of 1939 due to illness. Upon his return to good health he announced he was quitting the business again but was talked out of it by Gray and Pastor. He didn't stay long however. He left in November and moved to Mexico. 

Shaw returned to the U.S. two months later and formed a 32-piece studio orchestra which recorded several songs, including his famous version of ''Frenesi.'' Later in the year, he formed a new band of his own that included the now famous Gramercy Five. Ray Conniff arranged for the new group and Anita Boyer sang. Shaw again grew restless and disbanded his new outfit in early 1941. He formed another group in the fall of that year. Vocalists included Bonnie Lake, Paula Kelly and Fredda Gibson (later to become Georgia Gibbs). He also disbanded this group soon after starting it, in January of 1942.

In April Shaw joined the Navy. After going through boot camp and serving two months on a minesweeper he was put in charge of a service band. He shaped up the group and took it on a tour of Pacific combat zones, often playing in dangerous and primitive conditions. The strain of such an endeavor soon got to him, however, and he was medically discharged in November 1943. 
By fall of 1944 Shaw's health had recovered and he formed a new civilian band, which included Conniff, Barney Kessel, Roy Eldridge, and Dodo Marmarosa. Imogene Lynn provided vocals. By 1947 he had quit that group and taken up the study of classical clarinet, for which he performed and recorded an album. In 1949 Shaw formed a bop orchestra. He again quit the music industry in 1951 and retired to a farm, where he wrote his autobiography. 
In 1954 he returned briefly to music with a new Gramercy Five, but by the end of the year Artie Shaw had packed up his clarinet for the last time. He spent the rest of his life doing various concerns: writing and working briefly as a film distributor and a gun expert. He moved to Spain in 1955, to Connecticut in 1960, and to Southern California in 1973. In the 1980s he formed a new orchestra for special performances, though he did not play in it himself. The 1985 film documentary Time Is All You've Got traced his career in some detail. Shaw suffered from ill health the last few years of his life. He passed away on December 30, 2004. 

*Artie Shaw's middle name is often given as Jacob, a fact he said was inaccurate. He claimed he had no middle name. (Thanks to Artie Shaw's personal assistant, Larry Rose, for this information.) (info from

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Artie Shaw – Big Band bash go here:
1. Lady Be Good
2. The Man I Love
3. Temptation
4. Begin The Beguine
5. Rosalie
6. Serenade To A Savage
7. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
8. Yesterdays
9. Moonglow
10. Diga Diga Doo
11. Nightmare
12. Carioca
13. The Donkey Serenade
14. Mister Meadowlark
15. Indian Love Call
16. Jungle Drums
17. Frenesi
18. Gloomy Sunday
19. I Surrender Dear
20. Deep Purple
21. Blues From 'Lennox Avenue Suite' Part 1
22. Blues From 'Lennox Avenue Suite' Part 2
23. All The Things You Are