Artie Shaw and His Orchestra – Live from The Blue Room, Lincoln Hotel, New York City – January 18, 1939 – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Artie Shaw makes another appearance on these pages – this time in a remote broadcast from The Blue Room at the Lincoln Hotel in New York City and broadcast over the NBC Blue Network on January 18, 1939.
Radio probably did more to promote Swing to the American public than just about anything else in the 1930s. The reason was simple – not expensive to put on, was ideal for late night listening, and best of all, tapped into a huge Teenage audience. Listening now, we tend to forget that this was the music teenage America was consuming in mass quantities. These bands, and the single artists who were also part of the Swing genre helped propel the record industry into one of the biggest sources of consumer spending in history. And bands like Artie Shaw’s, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and a whole host of solo artists and lesser-knows became a staple in the diet of America, and most of the world in the days before World War 2.
Anyone who has watched any of the music Documentaries of the period, particularly of legends like Frank Sinatra, are immediately taken by the number of teenagers in the audience – the screaming fans. Those are 15 and 16 year olds – it just doesn’t instantly compute because these kids just look older than teenagers in 2020. They dressed different – they acted different – but it’s the same kids only from other times. That was the audience who flocked to hear the Artie Shaw’s and the tidal wave of other bands and artists that constituted the Swing era, and their appetite was insatiable. Million selling records became more the rule than the exception.
To get an idea of that popularity and just how influential the Big Band (i.e. Swing) era was, here’s one example (of many) featuring Artie Shaw and his band from 1939 from one of the many broadcasts of the period.