BENNY GOODMAN Biography - Musicians


Biography » musicians » benny goodman


Name: Benny Goodman                                                                       
Birth name: Benjamin David Goodman                                                         
Born: 30 May 1909 Chicago, Illinois                                                       
Died: 13 June 1986                                                                         
Benny Goodman, born Benjamin David Goodman, (May 30, 1909 - June 13, 1986)                 
was an American jazz musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as "King of               
Swing", "Patriarch of the Clarinet", "The Professor", and "Swing's Senior                 
Goodman was born in Chicago, the ninth of twelve children of poor Jewish                   
immigrants from Poland who lived in the Maxwell Street neighborhood. His father,           
David Goodman, was a tailor from Warsaw, his mother, Dora Rezinski, was from               
Kaunas. His parents met in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Chicago before Benny           
was born.                                                                                 
When Benny was 10, his father enrolled Benny and two older brothers in music               
lessons at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue. The next year he joined the boys club             
band at Jane Addams's Hull House, where he received lessons from the director             
James Sylvester. Also important during this period were his two years of                   
instruction from the classically trained clarinetist Franz Schoepp. His early             
influences were New Orleans jazz clarinetists working in Chicago, notably Johnny           
Dodds, Leon Roppolo, and Jimmy Noone. Goodman learned quickly, becoming a                 
strong player at an early age. He was soon playing professionally while still 'in         
short pants', playing clarinet in various bands.                                           
When Goodman was 16, he joined one of Chicago's top bands, the Ben Pollack                 
Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings in 1926. He made his first             
record on Vocalion under his own name two years later. Remaining with Pollack             
through 1929, Goodman recorded with the regular Pollack band and smaller groups           
drawn from the orchestra. The side sessions produced scores of often hot sides             
recorded for the various dime-store record labels under a bewildering array of             
group names, such as Mills' Musical Clowns, Goody's Good Timers, The Hotsy Totsy           
Gang, Jimmy Backen's Toe Ticklers, Dixie Daisies, and Kentucky Grasshoppers.               
Goodman's father, David, was a working-class immigrant about whom Benny said (interview,   
'Downbeat', Feb 8, 1956); "...Pop worked in the stockyards, shoveling lard in             
its unrefined state. He had those boots, and he'd come home at the end of the             
day exhausted, stinking to high heaven, and when he walked in it made me sick. I           
couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand the idea of Pop every day standing in that             
stuff, shoveling it around".                                                               
On December 9, 1929 David Goodman was killed in a traffic accident shortly after           
Benny joined the Pollack band and had urged his father to retire, now that he (Benny)     
and his brother (Harry) were doing well as professional musicians. According to           
James Lincoln Collier, "Pop looked Benny in the eye and said, 'Benny, you take             
care of yourself, I'll take care of myself.'" Collier continues: "It was an               
unhappy choice. Not long afterwards, as he was stepping down from a street car             
according to one story he was struck by a car. He never regained consciousness             
and died in the hospital the next day. It was a bitter blow to the family, and             
it haunted Benny to the end that his father had not lived to see the success he,           
and some of the others, made of themselves. "Benny described his father's                 
death as 'the saddest thing that ever happened in our family.'"