Artie Shaw in Second Chorus (1940)
|Birth name||Artie Jacob Arshawsky|
May 23, 1910|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||December 30, 2004
Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.
|Genres||Swing, big band|
Artie Shaw (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004) was an American musician. He is considered to be one of the best jazz musicians of his time. He was a jazz clarinet player, composer, and bandleader. He also wrote both fiction and non-fiction writings.
Early life[change | change source]
He was born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York, New York. He began learning the saxophone when he was 15. By age 16 he began to tour with a band. He returned to New York City and became a session musician. During the Swing Era, his big bands were very popular with hits like "Begin the Beguine" and "Stardust".
During the War[change | change source]
Political problems[change | change source]
In 1953, Shaw was brought up before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist activities. The committee was investigating a peace activist organization, the World Peace Congress, which it considered a communist front.
Writing career[change | change source]
Throughout his musical career, Shaw would take time off. He would quit the music business and pursue his writing career. In 1955, Shaw stopped playing the clarinet. After that, he focused on writing, especially semi-biographical fiction.
Legacy[change | change source]
In 1981, he organized a new Artie Shaw Band with clarinetist Dick Johnson as bandleader and soloist. Shaw himself would guest conduct from time to time, ending his self-imposed retirement.
Personal life and death[change | change source]
Shaw was married eight times: Jane Cairns (1932); Margaret Allen (1934-37); Lana Turner (1940); Betty Kern (1941-43), daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern; Ava Gardner (1945-46); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946-48); Doris Dowling (1952-56) and Evelyn Keyes (1957-85). He had two sons by Kern and Dowling.