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Last Updated: Friday, 31 December, 2004, 08:57 GMT
Jazz giant Artie Shaw dies at 94
Artie Shaw is shown playing the clarinet on 10 September 1941 at an unknown location
Artie Shaw largely left the music world behind in the mid-1950s
One of the most famous American band leaders of the swing era, the clarinettist Artie Shaw, has died.

He died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 94.

His 1938 recording of the Cole Porter tune Begin the Beguine helped make him one of the most famous and highly-paid musicians in the US at the time.

A self-declared perfectionist, Shaw was married eight times. His wives included Hollywood actresses Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes.

His manager, Bill Curtis, said: "His health had been failing for some time as the effects of a fall a few years ago reduced him to the point when he was in complete agony all the time."

Shaw was one of the biggest names in the jazz scene during the 1930s and 40s, alongside artists such as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.

One of the most famous members of his original band was the then-unknown blues singer Billie Holiday, who went on to become one of the icons of the era.

Ahead of his time

But Shaw gave up the spotlight in 1954 because he was uncomfortable with fame.

Ava Gardner and Artie Shaw
Shaw married Ava Gardner in 1945 but it lasted just one year
"Artie will always be remembered by musicians as the best clarinettist that has ever lived," said Mr Curtis.

"Most would agree that he was ahead of his time by far, even ahead of the great Benny Goodman."

After bowing out of showbusiness, Shaw went to live in Spain.

He returned to the US in 1960 and concentrated on music arranging and writing novellas.

Later, he did allow his band to reform under his name but did not perform with them.

In 2002, Shaw released a CD box set called Self Portrait that included some never released recordings.

He received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2004.

Obituary: Artie Shaw
31 Dec 04 |  Entertainment


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