I took these quotes from The Complete Artie Shaw Volume III -- this great lp set, I don't think, has been reissued. Great liners to them.
Prior to Artie's sudden escape to warmer climes, we had no inkling that a move was imminent." trumpter Bernie Privin reports. "Before that memorable evening at New York's Hotel Pennsylvania, everything seemed essentially normal to the men in the band. We were doing beautifully."
"Evidence of strain of Artie? Yes, I recall a few nights before he made his decision to split, he got a request from a lady in the Cafe Rouge, where we were working, to play a rhumba. He was essentially short with her. "Lady," he said, "you're in the wrong room!"
Henry Geller remembers: Artie suddenly left the stand about 11 P.M. Tony Pastor took over the band." Robinson adds: "He called us to his room upstairs in the Hotel Pennsylvania, and came directly to the point. "I've had it." He said He asked us to vote among ourselves about going on, and about a new leader. Georgie Auld was elected."
As is usually the case, it was a straw that broke the camel's back. On that fateful night, "because of a slight unpleasantness with some idiot on the floor in front of the band, who was evidently trying to impress his partner by using me as a focal point for his witticisms, I suddenly decided I'd had it," Shaw say in his autobiography.
[My favorite Shaw quote -- Matthew] I remember thinking frequently of a four-line poem, called "Composer" by a writer who died and left little else behind: 'He struck three chords / For beauty's sake / And one / To pay the rent.' For a time, I ws striking three chords for beauty's sake and one to pay the rent -- the salaries of the men, the buses that took us from place to place, the booking commissions. While there was enough for beauty's sake and the music remainded primary, I could subsist emotionally. When it got to be four for the rent, I could no longer take it. There was nothing left for me."