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Benny Goodman, "The King of Swing", was the clarinetist composer responsible for multiple hit singles as a band leader before World War II.
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(Lionel Hampton was added later.) One date on the tour made history: August 21, 1935. That night, the orchestra wowed the audience at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles—an event that many cite as the beginning of the swing era. Goodman also helped break down the color barrier in music at the time by having one of the first integrated bands.
Goodman's popularity continued to accelerate with 15 top 10 hits in 1936,
including "Goody-Goody" and "You Turned the Tables on Me." Returning to the radio, he became the host of Camel Caravan that year. The program ran until 1939. Making his film debut, Goodman also appeared as himself in The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936). He went on to make several films, including Hollywood Hotel (1937), Syncopation (1942) and Sweet and Low-Down (1944).
Making music history again, Goodman's orchestra was one of the first to perform jazz at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall in 1938. Other legendary acts on the same bill included Count Basie and Duke Ellington and their bands. He also released one of his most trademark songs, "Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing)," that same year, which was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. As a bandleader, Goodman was known for being a demanding boss who sought technical perfection from his performers. Many of his players left to start their own groups, including Gene Krupa and Harry James. Around this time, Goodman also faced competition from other popular bandleaders, such as Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller.
By 1940, Goodman's meteoric career showed signs of fading. He scored only three top ten hits that year, including the number one hit "Darn That Dream." Some of his other hits from this era were "There'll Be Some Changes Made," sung by Louise Tobin, and "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place" with vocals by Peggy Lee. In 1942, Goodman married John Hammond's sister, Alice. The couple eventually had two daughters together, Rachel and Benjie.
The American Federation of Musicians called a recording ban in August 1942, which put a damper on Goodman's output. He did, however, release some material he had recorded before the ban and reached the top of the charts in 1943 with "Taking a Chance on Love" sung by Helen Forrest.
After World War II ended in 1945, the jazz scene began changing, moving more toward bebop style and away from swing. Goodman eventually broke up his big band and performed with small groups over the years. With musician-comedian Victor Borge, he hosted a radio show for a time. Goodman also starred in the 1948 musical comedy A Song Is Born with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo, which featured other music greats Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey among others. He also later recorded the soundtrack for the film about his life, The Benny Goodman Story (1955), which starred comedian Steve Allen as Goodman.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Goodman spent a lot of time abroad. He toured Europe in 1950. In 1956, Goodman toured the Far East for the U.S. State Department. He went on to tour the Soviet Union in 1962 as part of the U.S. State Department's cultural exchange program.
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