Here are 10 things you should know about Benny Goodman, born 114 years ago today. Folks are still inspired to cut a rug when they hear one of his recordings. We’re featuring his music all day so tune in now!
On Cladrite Radio, we proudly feature the marvelous talents of many great African-American artists, performers whose musical gifts have brightened our days, lightened our loads and touched our hearts for decades. It’s painful to think that these giants experienced bigotry, racism and in some cases even physical violence during their lives, and it’s heartbreaking to be reminded that our country’s racist heritage is not yet a thing of the past, that in too many dark corners, it still festers and that precious lives continue to be lost to this hatred.
We want our African-American friends, listeners and followers—and all of our listeners and followers who stand for justice and equality in the US and around the world—to know that we love them, we respect them and we want what they want: a just society that values Black lives every bit as much as all other lives.
In celebration of the great Black artists who have so enriched our lives and in honor of—and solidarity with—those African Americans, past and present, whose lives have been impacted (and too often, ended prematurely) by bigotry and racist hatred, we are, beginning at midnight ET tonight (Friday, June 5), devoting 48 hours solely to music created by Black bandleaders, musicians and singers. We hope you’ll tune in throughout the weekend. #BLM
Benny Goodman, one of the true giants of American music, was born 106 years ago today.
Known as The King of Swing, Goodman is best remembered as one of the greats of the swing era in the late 1930s and ‘40s, but he began playing professionally way back in the early ‘20s. He can be heard as part of the ensemble in some of the greatest records of the 1920s and early ‘30s.
We had the great pleasure of seeing him perform at Carnegie Hall on June 25, 1982. We’d moved to New York City just four days before, and we had no business spending the money it would cost to get a ticket, but this was just the sort of opportunity that had inspired us to relocate to the Big Apple, the chance to experience the best the world has to offer in every artistic discipline. To be in the same room with the likes of Mr. Goodman and the musicians who graced the stage with him that night—Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Panama Francis, and Phil Flanigan—as they shared their estimable gifts with the audience in that historic hall.
That was what New York meant to us then; it still does today.
After the show, we ran over to Colony Records near Times Square to buy a Benny Goodman album, with the intent of waiting by the backstage door and asking him to sign it when he came out.
That meant waiting several hours for the evening’s second show to end, but we stuck it out. Why we didn’t go find a coffee shop and have some dinner, we don’t recall. We probably thought there would be a mob of people awaiting Mr. Goodman’s appearance and figured we’d better stake out our spot as close to the stage door as possible.
But when he finally exited the Hall, there weren’t more than eight or ten people there, and he wasted no time in whisking right by every last one of us to duck into a waiting limousine.
It was disappointing, of course, that he didn’t stop to interact at least briefly with us, but hey, we can say we got to see Benny Goodman perform at Carnegie Hall and how many people can say that? What’s more, we stood not three feet from him as he exited the building and made his way home. So no regrets at all on our part, even if our LP went unsigned and our hands went unshaken.
Happy birthday, Mr. Goodman, and thanks for a wonderful evening.