Today marks celebration of yet another 'king'. Recently Two Kings Remembered reflected upon one of the greatest sports heroes of American culture, Babe Ruth (King of Swing) and Rock 'n' Roll legend Elvis Aaron Presley (King of Rock 'n' Roll) who mesmerized fans of the 50s and 60s with his unconventional musical style. In fact, on this day it is another 'King of Swing' -- this time not in sports -- in music but not rock 'n' roll.
1935 Swing into the 30s with the performance of Benny Goodman at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, California. Before making his breakthrough at the Palomar, Benny Goodman had already proven himself a successful soloist in various prominent bands. He was also the leader of his own trio and big band for several years prior to this engagement. His band landed a regular gig on a weekly radio program broadcast out of New York City called Let's Dance.
Goodman had been sent by his father at the age of 10 in 1919 to the local synagogue for clarinet lessons in the hopes that a music career might provide him a way out of poverty.
It was time for a change and Benny Goodman was at the right place at the right time! While performing on the Let's Dance radio program, Goodman introduced "hot" arrangements by African-American bandleader Fletcher Henderson. Venturing away from the more romantic style of the day, Henderson's arrangements employed loose, upbeat, syncopated rhythms that had actually been common in African-American jazz ensembles for years.
The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra was the most popular African-American band of the 1920s.
In spite of his successes, the tour during the summer of 1935 had played out to be more of a failure so when the opportunity arrived to perform at the Palomar, Goodman was more than thrilled. The first part of the show, however, did not set the audience on fire. It was a young crowd and Goodman was loosing all fast as he stuck to his former 'unadventurous' same-o, same-o rhythms. Then along came Henderson's tunes!
Before their return from the first intermission, the band's drummer, Gene Krupa, is said to have urged Goodman, "If we're gonna die, Benny, let's die playing our own thing." It was at that point that Benny Goodman famously pulled out Henderson's arrangements along with all the stops on his talented orchestra, to the crowd's immense delight. (Source: History.com)
Swing was born!Sounds & rhythms of swing utterly dominated the American popular-music scene in the late 30s and early 40s. Instantly coming to mind are images of tuxedo-clad Big bands overlooking crowded dance floors with exuberant jitterbugs dancing the Shag and the Lindy Hop.
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...