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ghost of miles

The night Artie Shaw walked off the bandstand

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Hey all, anybody know of eyewitness accounts or otherwise to the night that Artie Shaw walked off the stage at the Cafe Rouge in New York's Hotel Pennsylvania circa November 1939? He gave up his big band and disappeared for a couple of months--re-surfacing in Mexico, I believe. I don't know if our library's Downbeats go back that far, but I'm very interested in any stories about this night that have been printed anywhere. Surely Shaw's talked about it before (he mentions it fleetingly in the SELF-PORTRAIT liners, I think).

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What a coincidence! I just alluded to this incident in the Chronological Classics thread! The orchestra carried on for a while under Georgie Auld’s leadership, and Classics is now releasing the first Auld volume, which will contain the recordings this band made under Auld's name.

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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."

Edited by Matthew

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That is quite a coincidence, Swinging Swede! And thanks for the account, Matthew--does it give a date for that performance, BTW? I'm really hoping to track down the specific night...

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That is quite a coincidence, Swinging Swede! And thanks for the account, Matthew--does it give a date for that performance, BTW? I'm really hoping to track down the specific night...

November 17 - 18, 1939. The liners state Shaw left for Mexico on the 18th, so I would assume that the actual walking off took place the evening of the November 17.

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wait, so he just got sick of the late 30s nyc swing scene so he beat it and went to Mexico? That is fucking awesome. I bet he got mangeled there

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Just a second...I think I know this. Isn't that the notorious Nazi death camp doctor who would up living in Brazil after the war?

Up over and out.

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That was Josef Mengele.mengele.jpg AKA The Angel of Death, but no angel was he.

Edited by Christiern

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Chris,

Roger that...in spades. One of the most despicable of that entire cadre of despicabe people.

Funny how these threads mutate.

Up over and out.

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wait, so he just got sick of the late 30s nyc swing scene so he beat it and went to Mexico? That is fucking awesome. I bet he got mangeled there

I think Aric was refering to the story tha tShaw shattered his kneecap into five pieces in Alcapulco. In a way, that is getting "mangeled".

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Wonder what he was doing to get his kneecap shattered in five places.

Surfing? Skiing?

At least it beats getting 'mangled' by 'Mengele'

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Ghost, it is probably a long shot, but check your blockbuster, or library for a copy of the Documentary,Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got. We taped it on Beta around 1985, and it was a bad tape from the beginning, just about unwatchable now! :( I am pretty sure he goes into why he left, it is mostly all interview with Artie. http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll

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Hey, thanks for the tip there, Berigan, I'll try to run it down. Did you ever snag any of those Heps?

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I dug every interview I ever heard or read with Artie Shaw. I remember one on wkcr where he was bugged with Charlie Barnet for playing CARAVAN wrong - chromatic all the way down, instead of coming into the last note from below. He was REALLY drug with what he considered a LAME approach. I haven't heard enough Charlie Barnet to really have an informed opinion, but I will always think of that criticism.

On the flip - Max Kaminsky brings Artie up in his autobiography and basically says Artie wasn't too cool to him in a tough moment. Maxie was another guy who could impress you with his intelligence.

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Hey, thanks for the tip there, Berigan, I'll try to run it down. Did you ever snag any of those Heps?

Not hip to the hep yet, will be soon though!!!!

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Shaw is a great clarinetist and bandleader, but am I the only one who, after watching "Time Is All You've Got," felt that he also is one of the all-time narcissisitc jerks? Also, and in much the same vein that his vaunted (esp. by Shaw himself) intellectuality is fairly hollow because it's mostly for show and/or a case of wishful mirror-gazing?

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Shaw is a great clarinetist and bandleader, but am I the only one who, after watching "Time Is All You've Got," felt that he also is one of the all-time narcissisitc jerks? Also, and in much the same vein that his vaunted (esp. by Shaw himself) intellectuality is fairly hollow because it's mostly for show and/or a case of wishful mirror-gazing?

Oh, he's got quite the healthy ego, no doubt!!! When he is bitching about playing for military brass a lot in WW2, I understood his gripe, but damn it does seem to be all about how it stressed him out,(I think he left the service early because of the stress) and I kept thinking how the regular soldier overseas had it much harder than ol' Artie..... Harold's post is interesting about Charlie Barnet...I don't know why Shaw would pick on Charlie's playing...I have always dug the "Barnet" sound...perhaps Artie was just jealous since Charlie might have been the one man to marry more times than Shaw! :g

Artie Shaw is very smart, there can be no doubt of that fact, but sometimes someone can be too smart....if you know what I mean.....

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