plays the music of Artie Shaw.
In the "Big Band Era" there was no bigger star in the music universe than Artie Shaw. The jazz clarinetist and bandleader's rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" was one of the best-known songs of the 20th century. Shaw's recording of "Begin the Beguine" sold millions.
"Begin the Beguine" transformed the clarinet virtuoso into a pop star -- darkly handsome with squealing jitterbuggers in the audience and glamour girls on his arm. Among the string of women he married were movie stars Lana Turner and Ava Gardner. "You run into a party and (a) woman comes up to you. She's the most beautiful creature you ever saw and says, 'I like you and why don't we get together?' What are you going to say, 'No'? You'd have to be an idiot. She (Ava Gardner) was an incredible creature."
But Shaw was more at home in the jazz life. In the 1938 session that launched 'Begin the Beguine', he recorded another tune called 'Any Old Time', featuring Billie Holiday, who was little known at the time. Shaw had persuaded Holiday to join his big band at a time when a black singer in a white band was shocking. "I knew that was going to be kind of scandalous, but she was a good singer," he says.
Shaw, who began recording in 1936, walked away from the business -- and his clarinet -- 18 years later. He says he didn't enjoy the life of a star and that his struggle for perfection was killing him. "I was very uncomfortable," he explains. "I played the role called Artie Shaw. People (ask) me for autographs, so I (say), 'I got out of the Artie Shaw business about 50 years ago.' That's why I walked out. I walked out of the business at my peak. I quit."
This program was broadcast in two parts on two successive months.