When I was 10 years old, I wanted to play the tenor sax. I just loved the music of Jr. Walker and the All Stars at that time. I asked my parents if we could rent one, but I was told that the family finances wouldn't allow it. Plus I was told that it would be doubtful if I'd stick with it. But, if I wanted to try the clarinet, I could use the one my mother played when she was in grade school. Clarinet? That's a girl's instrument! No thanks!
Well, a few months later, I happened to see The Benny Goodman Story on one of those television Saturday matinees. Wow, all those horns! Sing, Sing, Sing! Maybe clarinet wouldn't be so bad after all. With that, I joined the beginner's class mid-year. (To catch up on the fingering, I wrote a number system under every note. Unfortunately, it became a crutch for me and I didn't stop until my 7th grade band director saw it and gave me grief for it.)
My grandmother had some big band records. In addition to Benny Goodman, she had Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, to name a few. I would listen to these like crazy and I also listened to the radio to get more of this music. Besides the FM jazz station, KFI 640 used to play big band music. (The host was Chuck Cecil, who is still at it, although now on KJAZ 88.1. )
Eventually, I was able to discover so many other artists after the initial discovery of Benny Goodman. You can see where the ensuing 40 years have led me from the entries in this blog. Occasionally, I still like to remind my mother that she said I'd never stick with the horn!
I never got to see Benny in person. He didn't play in LA much, but I remember he played at the Hollywood Bowl at the 1979 Playboy Jazz Festival. As a college student, it didn't work out dough-wise.
Benny Goodman was born 100 years ago today. Thanks for everything, Benny!