Music: New King

Nine years ago a band leader named Ben Pollack was drawing hot music's purists to Chicago's Southmoor Hotel. His band, a future who's who of jazz, included a solemn, bespectacled clarinetist named Benny Goodman, a shockheaded, galvanic drummer named Gene Krupa, a rangy, adolescent trombonist with an Iowa accent named Alton Glenn Miller. As the years went by, and hot jazz built up from a provincial ripple to a national tidal wave, Clarinetist Goodman rode to shore on its crest and was crowned King of Swing.

For three years (1935-38) Clarinetist Goodman retained his crown. But by last spring a lusty group of pretenders was after it. Chief among them - was a youngster named Artie Shaw. Last March, while King Goodman and Pretender Shaw fought a battle of music in Newark, N. J. (TIME, March 6), a brand-new band was drawing some discriminating New Jersey jitterbugs to the Meadowbrook Club in neighboring Cedar Grove. Leading it was Ben Pollack's old trombonist, Glenn Miller.

At first Miller's was rated as just another good swing band. But last summer, when it moved to Westchester's Glen Island Casino, things began to happen. Within five months Glenn Miller's band was causing more rug-dust to fly, making more phonograph records, and playing more radio dates than Goodman and Shaw together. Last month the Chesterfield Hour conferred swing's Pulitzer Prize on Miller by signing him up to take Paul Whiteman's place, beginning Dec. 27. Last week Trombonist Miller, now undisputed King of Swing, went back to play a week's engagement, just for old times' sake, at the Meadowbrook Club.

Glenn Miller attributes his crescendo to the "juke box." which retails recorded music at 5¢ a shot in bars, restaurants and small roadside dance joints, and has become the record industry's biggest customer (TIME, Sept. 4). Of the twelve to 24 discs in each of today's 300,000 U. S. juke boxes, from two to six are usually Glenn Miller's.

But Oldtimer Miller is more than a little leery of his spotlighted throne. Says he: "I don't want to be the king of swing or anything else. I'd rather have a reputation as one of the best all-round bands."

Time.com on Digg

POWERED BY digg

Quotes of the Day »

SCOTT WALKER, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, on the crowds of protesters who have descended on the state's capitol in hopes of halting a Republican effort to end a half-century of collective-bargaining rights for public workers
For use in rail of Articles page or Section Fronts pages. Duplicate and change name as necesssary to distinguish.