Facts about Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw died at 94 years old
Born: May 23, 1910
Best known as: The clarinet-playing big band leader who recorded Begin the Beguine

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Artie Shaw Biography

Name at birth: Arthur Arshawsky

Artie Shaw was a leading jazz clarinetist and big band leader of the mid-20th century. His hit 1938 recording of Begin the Beguine made him a popular rival to superstar clarinetist Benny Goodman.

Artie Shaw developed a reputation as a reluctant and somewhat grouchy genius; his big bands were roaring successes but he frequently broke them up, only to form new bands months or years later. He also dabbled in symphonic music and avant-garde jazz combos and led a U.S. Navy big band during World War II.

Artie Shaw also wrote books, including the semi-autobiographical The Trouble With Cinderella (1952). A famous ladies’ man in his day, Artie Shaw was married eight times, including marriages to Hollywood beauties Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.

Always unpredictable, Artie Shaw quit the music business entirely in 1954. He helped form a big band bearing his name in 1983 (though he did not play in it) and that band continued touring into the 21st century.


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