Benny Goodman: Born May 30, 1909

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YoungBGBorn in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, into a large, impoverished family of immigrants. Goodman experienced hard times while growing up. Encouraged by his father to learn a musical instrument, Goodman and two of his brothers took lessons; as the youngest and smallest he learned to play the clarinet. These early studies took place at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue and later at Hull House, a settlement house founded by reformer Jane Addams. From the start, Goodman displayed an exceptional talent and he received personal tuition from James Sylvester and then the renowned classicist Franz Schoepp. Before he was in his teens, Goodman had begun performing in public and was soon playing in bands with such emerging jazz artists as Jimmy McPartland, Frank Teschemacher and Dave Tough. Goodman’s precocious talent allowed him to become a member of the American Federation of Musicians at the age of 14 and that same year he played with Bix Beiderbecke. By his mid-teens Goodman was already established as a leading musician, working on numerous engagements with many bands to the detriment of his formal education.
http://biography.just-the-swing.com/benny-goodmanOrchestra

The summer of 1932 saw Benny organise his first band which starred singer Russ Columbo. The second band that he formed (in 1934) got a job at Billy Rose’s Music Hall. This band made some great recordings and began appearing on the 3-hour NBC radio program called “Let’s Dance.”

After this, the Benny Goodman Orchestra began touring (with not so fantastic results) until August 21, 1935, when the Benny Goodman Orchestra opened in the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. After playing a few dance tunes, he told the band to play some Fletcher Henderson arrangements. The mostly young crowd promptly started something of a riot. After this public approval of the music – this thing called “Swing” – there was no looking back!
http://www.touchoftonga.com/DavidMulliss/benny-goodman.html

OlderBGBenny did for clarinet what Louis Armstrong had done for the trumpet.  He gave it a newly assertive leadership role in the jazz ensemble.

His was the most popular and influential swing band of the 1930s and ‘40s, and his unique trios, quartets and sextets shaped small-band Jazz style.  Before Benny, clarinet was rarely a lead instrument for a band.  His success made it the most popular instrument for other bandleaders like Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey and Woody Herman.
http://jazzhotbigstep.com/45801.html

Benny Goodman Discography: http://www.discogs.com/artist/254768-Benny-Goodman

May 19~

Pete Townshend (1945)

art: John Entwistle
bio: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/pete-townshend/biography
video: https://youtu.be/slhQOjMHaDY

 

Grace Jones (1948)
art: Keith Haring
photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe
bio: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/grace-jones-mn0000161920/biography
video: https://youtu.be/EMypXV1YJfw

Irving Berlin~ Born May 11, 1888

“Irving Berlin has no place in American music
– he is American music.”  ~Jerome Kern

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888. In 1907 he published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy,” and by 1911 he had his first major international hit — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Over the next five decades, Irving Berlin produced an outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs that defined American popular song for much of the century. He wrote seventeen complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and contributed material to six more. His songs have provided memorable moments in dozens of…films. An intuitive business man, Irving Berlin was a co-founder of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), founder of his own music publishing company, and with producer Sam Harris, builder of his own Broadway theatre, The Music Box.
http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/bio/C3

Biography of Irving Berlin

In the late 19th century the sheet music business dominated the music industry in the United States. Parlor music took over the scene as the piano became a part of the middle class home.  This led to a demand for sheet music for home consumption.  The genre that grew out of this demand was called Tin Pan Alley, from the area of New York City where most of the song publishers were located. Success was measured by the sale of sheet music.  To attract business, sheet music publishers hired artists to make beautiful covers…In the early 20th century the phonograph and recorded music grew in popularity and began to replace sheet music.  In the 1920s, radio became the rage and eventually the record industry replaced the sheet music publishers as the prevailing music medium.
http://researchguides.gonzaga.edu/c.php?g=67703&p=436739

Irving Berlin Sheet Music Covers            Sheet Music Illustrators

Lowell George (April 13, 1945-June 29, 1979)

Biography~ http://www.littlefeat.net/lowell-george-bio.html
Lowell George’s Last Interview~
https://parade.com/232087/parade/lowell-georges-last-interview-remembering-the-little-feat-founder/
‘Down on the Farm’~ http://ultimateclassicrock.com/little-feat-down-on-the-farm/
More Lowell George Links~ http://www.dmci.com/lowell/lowell.html

Tom Lehrer: Born April 9, 1928

Thomas Andrew “Tom” Lehrer is a retired American singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. He is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and ’60s.

Biography~ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tom-lehrer-mn0000611877/biography
“Looking For Tom Lehrer”~
https://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/tom-lehrer?utm_term=.ruJ6aPBRrd#.xq4Xe2dq4w

Johnny Cash: Born February 26, 1932

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kidjohnnyJohnny Cash was a towering figure in 20th century American music, a minimalist with a booming Old Testament baritone who could wrench an abundance of power from stark settings. At first Cash was backed by guitar and bass; in the end it was simply guitar. But when a voice can tell a story with as much resonance as Cash’s could, not much else is needed.

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Cash’s songs – from his early gospel recordings and the resonant outlaw-country of Fifties classics like “Folsom Prison Blues” to late efforts like his unlikely, gut-wrenching cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” – influenced not only his fellow country musicians, but also rockers from Bono to Bob Dylan. By turns those songs were laden with pathos, whimsy, regret, hope, lust, and fury; they always cut to the heart of its subject matter, whether it be God, love or the plight of prisoners and Native Americans. Cash led a tumultuous life, battling drug addiction, chaffing against orthodoxy, and doing things his own way. But by the end The Man in Black became an icon, a man who earns almost universal respect among music fans.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/johnny-cash/biographyDR1001_Johnny_CASH_P

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