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Frequently Asked Questions about Artie Shaw, The King of the Clarinet. Interesting facts about his music, style, politics, and personal life.

1910 – 2004

Artie Shaw

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Frequently Asked Questions about Artie Shaw

The King of the Clarinet

Who was Artie Shaw?

Artie Shaw was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, actor and author of both fiction and non-fiction. Artie Shaw is regarded to be one of the best jazz clarinetists of all time. Shaw led one of the United States’ most popular big bands known as Artie Shaw and His Orchestra during the Swing Era in the late 1930s through the early 1940s.  In 1953 Shaw revived a new smaller jazz ensemble called Gramercy Five which he originally started in 1939. Gramercy Five is best known for the studio recordings.

What was Artie Shaw's real name?

Born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, he changed his name to ‘Artie Shaw’ at the age of 15 when he decided to drop out of high school to be a full-time musician.

Why did Artie Shaw change his name?

In the mid-1920s Shaw shortened his name to ‘Art Shaw’ while playing shows and dances as far away as Cleveland Ohio.  At the time he played clarinet, baritone sax, and had begun writing musical arrangements. In 1938 he changed first name from ‘Art Shaw’ to ‘Artie Shaw’ after a recording executive decided that ‘Art Shaw’ sounded like “a fast sneeze.”

What kind of clarinet did Artie Shaw play?
Artie Shaw played a large-bore Selmer BT six-ring model with articulated G-sharp key with the big band for most of his career. Shaw described the Selmer as having more “shout”.  For a short time Shaw also played a Conn clarinet before switching to a Buffet clarinet with the Gramercy 5 band in 1953, which he described as being “more intimate”.
Where did Artie Shaw go to school?

Artie Shaw went to Hillhouse High School in in New Haven, Connecticut, located at 480 Sherman Parkway. James Hillhouse High School is the oldest public high school in New Haven. At 15, Artie dropped out of high school to become a full-time musician and changed his name from Arshawsky to Shaw.

Is Artie Shaw still alive?

No.  Artie Shaw passed away in 2004 at the age of 94 from complications related to diabetes. However, his music lives on.

  • Who was better Artie Shaw or Benny Goodman?
  • Did Artie Shaw play classical music?
  • What band was Artie Shaw in?
  • How many times was Artie Shaw married?
  • Who were Artie Shaw’s 8 wives?
  • How long was Lana Turner married to Artie Shaw?

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