HE SET AMERICA SWINGING Benny Goodman: 1909-1986

He was a nice Jewish boy from Chicago, the son of a tailor from Warsaw, and he played the clarinet. The experienced jazz musicians aboard the excursion boat were skeptical of the slight, bespectacled twelve-year-old in short pants, union card or no union card. ''Keep away from the instruments, kid!'' they shouted. ''Get off the boat!'' Undaunted, the lad took out his horn and started to play. Case closed: two minutes later, Benny Goodman had joined Bix Beiderbecke's band. From that humble dockside audition grew the career of one of the century's most influential jazzmen and most enduring icons. It was...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!