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Artie Shaw a Tribute

Updated on December 10, 2012

Artie Shaw--Cole Porter's Begin the Beguine

Artie Shaw

As I was showering and brushing my teeth this morning I happened to catch an NPR show on Artie Shaw. Here are some of the facts about this amazing musician, composer and writer who died at 94 in 2004.

He was born Arthur David Arshawski in New York City and grew up poor in New Haven, Connecticut. He started playing saxophone but soon switched to clarinet and was playing with big bands in his teens. He soon started his own successful big band. One of his early hits was Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." In 1938, his was the first band to hire and travel with a black singer--Billie Holliday. Shaw made $60,000 a week at his peak. When swing and big bands' popularity faded and small jazz groups emerged, Shaw formed the highly successful Gramercy Five. Shaw was a believer in marriage. His eight wives included Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Kathleen Windsor, author of "Forever Amber," and Jerome Kern's daughter. Aside from his other talents he was a precision marksman and an expert fly fisherman. Shaw enlisted in the Navy and was soon entertaining American troops in Pacific battle zones in the Pacific. He wrote an autobigraphy revealing the downside of the music business, three novels and several short stories.

Frenesi, an Artie Shaw Hit


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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comment. The name Kurt Elling rings a bell. I'll check him out.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      He was a supreme artist to the core and an exuberance unmatched during that era. I can still see my Mom and Dad, Mother-in-law and Father-in-law dancing to some of his hits at my wedding--forty years ago in August . . . YIKES!

      Ralph, are you familiar with any of the work of Kurt Elling? If not, I highly recommend him. He's an acquired taste but the man is highly gifted when it comes to original jazz vocal interpretation of the classics. Check out his recent album --s a homage to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartmann.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Have to confess that Artie Shaw is not on my list of favourites, though I enjoyed this Hub immensely. My taste in jazz runs much more to the modern, late bop and post-bop era but Shaw was a great musician, no doubt. Thanks for sharing this interesting info about him. Eight wives - wow, where did he find the time to make music?

      Love and peace


    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, Chip.

    • profile image

      Chip Etier 

      9 years ago

      What a coincidence! I've been listening to jazz and big band all day. In fact, I was reviewing a new CD that is a jazz/hip-hop fusion! Don't laugh, it was great!

      I'll send you the link when it's published.

      FCEtier, aka, "Chip"

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Yeah, eight wives including Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Kathleen Windsor. I wonder what his secret was? He must have been quite an athlete in bed!??

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      What a character. Eight wives!! He certainly liked wedding cake, as they say. Love the sound of a clarinet, though Sax is my favourite. Thanks for all the additional Artie info

    • profile image


      9 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! Ralph

      Enjoyed your article very much and the style of music of Artie Shaw. It is so pleasing. I do not know much about Western and American music. Generally I think of jaaz or Western classical music while in USA. But right now in the evening time, sitting in the other corner of world in my home in Mumbai watching sea waves from the window and listening to this music with continuity of pleasing sounds, not so common in Western music (but quite common in such American music) was indeed a great pleasure.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, everyone for your kind comments. Shaw was quite a versatile and talented guy who wasn't easy to get along with.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      9 years ago from Texas, USA

      I really enjoyed your article. Artie Shaw playing style remands me of Glen Miller's style. Interesting bit of information that Shaw had Billie Holiday on vocals at one time; that was a big deal back in 1938 i'm sure. I rate this one Thumbs up and beautiful.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      9 years ago

      I enjoyed the hub, Ralph. Artie Shaw was a master musician in my view.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this Ralph. I am really not much of a jazz fan but it was very nice listening to the videos.

    • jiberish profile image


      9 years ago from florida

      Ralph, very nice! I was married to a man 16 years older than me who was into jazz, over the years I grew to appreciate it. I grew up on classical music, but jazz is like scotch, it grows on you.


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