Artie Shaw rose to fame as one of the swing era's finest bandleaders and most innovative clarinetists.
Shaw, whose eight wives included such Hollywood legends as Lana Turner and Ava Gardner, slammed the door on the music business with a Shakespearean flourish when he retired in the 1950s.
From the 1930s to the mid-'50s, Shaw formed, disbanded and reorganized bands that made some of the most enduring recordings of the swing era, from his first hit in 1938 with Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" to his last recordings with the Gramercy Five, made in 1954 and released more than 30 years later.
On of Shaw's bands was Art Shaw and His New Music, which became Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. In 1938, the group recorded "Begin the Beguine," a Cole Porter tune that was recorded for Bluebird records as the flip side of a swinging version of "Indian Love Call," which everyone expected to be Shaw's first hit. Instead, "Beguine" would make him a celebrity.
Shaw departed from music in 1941 when he saw servicemen going off to war. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and served on a minesweeper.
By the time Shaw returned to popular music in the late '40s, the big band era was in decline. He put together his fine 1949 band and, when that didn't find an audience, formed another one just to please the crowds. In the early 1950s, he again left music to write his autobiography. His last major foray into music was with the Gramercy Five in 1954.
Eventually the record companies and his audiences became more interested in popular music, and Shaw made good on an oft-repeated threat to abandon his profession, leaving many fans and critics mystified.
|1940||Best Score||Second Chorus||Nomination|
|1940||Best Song||"Love of My Life" from Second Chorus||Nomination*|