They called Benjamin David ‘Benny’ Goodman ‘the King of Swing’. Born in poverty in the Jewish ghetto in Chicago on 30 May 1909 - one of 12 children - the virtuoso clarinetist became one of the most famous American musicians of all time, and in 1938 took jazz into Carnegie Hall, until then a temple of western classical music. Goodman was a pop star in the 1930s, with ecstatic teenage fans all over the United States. He formed his first band in 1934, just as coast-to-coast radio and the rise of a new broadcasting species - the DJ - was about to get going in America.
Network radio was a major factor in Goodman’s overnight success. But so was the immaculate elegance and fluency of his clarinet-playing and a brilliant group of partners including the thunderously theatrical drum star Gene Krupa, pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and electric-guitar pioneer Charlie Christian.
Arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, the bandleader who had hired the young Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins in the 1920s, also gave an edge to the early Goodman bands. Henderson arranged this 1935 version of Blue Skies.