100 Years of Artie Shaw

artie shaw, jazz clarinetist

100 Years of Artie Shaw.

I had no idea this was the centennial of Artie Shaw's birth. Here's to one of the greatest ever jazz players. But he was also quite a glamorous character! And he quit early in his career, apparently fed up with the commercial aspects of performing.

Shaw's reputation goes hand in hand with his notoriety as a glamorous personality (his eight wives included Lana Turner and Ava Gardner among four actresses, plus bodice-ripper novelist Kathleen Winsor and Jerome Kern's daughter Betty), verbal wit and talent as a writer (his post-musical career). Shaw, with his periodic Greta Garbo-like shunning of fame, was the perfect, often coveted, interview subject, contributing to his own legend with epigrammatic, acerbic and seemingly candid views in articles and, as can be witnessed here, in interviews to liner-note writers. The general consensus was that Shaw was fed up with the commercial aspects of the music business—that's why he quit. Here's two pertinent quotes:

"I'm through with dance bands. There are so many times you can play 'Stardust.'" (1948)

"The 1949 band was the real reason I got out of the music business. It was a bust! All the public wanted was 'Beguine' and 'Frenesi'—you could become a one-tune player. ... I couldn't handle that." (ca. 1991)

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2 comments for “100 Years of Artie Shaw

  1. May 15, 2010 at

    Artie Shaw had a romantic interest in Billie Holiday, too, though i'm not sure if they ever married.

    • May 16, 2010 at

      Wow. He must have been quite a lady killer!

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