Sing Sing Sing Benny Goodman
About Benny Goodman
His passion was music and his big band sound quickened the pulse of a generation ready to shrug off the Depression and dance. With clarinet in hand, Benny Goodman was transformed from a child in Chicago’s impoverished Jewish ghetto into the king of swing, greeted with near pandemonium wherever his band played. Goodman led jazz into the commercial mainstream and brought with him an extraordinary group of gifted and original musicians. Band members Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton were some of the first to break the big band color barrier. Held together by the force of Goodman’s personality and a willingness to put their music above all else, the Benny Goodman Band created a kingdom of swing with enthusiastic fans from coast to coast.
It could have been a far different life, had destiny not intervened. Struggling to raise a family of eleven on sweatshop wages, Benny Goodman’s father believed music might be a ticket out of poverty for his eldest sons. He enrolled them in free music classes at a local synagogue when Benny was just ten. His older brothers were given a tuba and a trombone, but Benny, the smallest, got a clarinet. From the outset, he was a prodigy of unmistakable talent. As a youth, he had frequented the jazz halls on the south side of Chicago, soaking in some of the greatest musicianship in the world. By the time he was fifteen, Goodman had dropped out of school and already established himself as a professional musician. It was then that the Ben Pollack Orchestra asked him to move to California and join the band.
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