Benny Goodman was given his first clarinet at age nine, in Chicago’s famed Hull House. At 14 he was in a band that featured the legendary Bix Beiderbecke. By the time he was 16 he was recognized as a “comer” as far away as the west coast and was asked to join a California-based band led by another Chicago boy, Ben Pollack.
His career took off from there with appearances on NBC’s Let’s Dance and the prime time radio program The Camel Caravan. He eventually played at the Paramount Theatre and Carnegie Hall. History will forever remember him as the “King of Swing.” The title was invented by Gene Krupa—and he reigned as such thereafter until his death in 1986 at age 77.
Over the years he played with the greatest figures in jazz: Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Mildred Bailey, Bessie Smith and countless others. His career, spanning more than six decades, had an almost unparalleled impact on popular music and the importance of the clarinet in both jazz and classical music.
He is forever linked to the Foundation through the Benny Goodman Foundation scholarship, established in his honor by his daughter, Rachel Goodman Edelson, a local resident. Every year, the endowed fund provides scholarship support to helping future musicians who may one day be as influential as Benny Goodman himself.
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