Artie Shaw is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz clarinetists of his time. He is also the author of both fiction and non-fiction writings.
He was born in 1910 in New York City. He gained fame with popular hits like Begin the Beguine, (1938), Stardust, Back Bay Shuffle, and Moonglow. He was considered equal to Benny Goodman. It is stated that he said of Goodman, "Benny Goodman plays clarinet, I play music."
In 1954, Shaw stopped playing the clarinet, citing his own perfectionism, which, he later said, would have killed him. He explained to a reporter, "In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last. You have to be Lawrence Welk, or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I'm not able to do that." He spent the rest of the 1950's living in Europe.
He played himself in the movie, Love of My Life. For a good comparison of popularity, think about this: In the early forties, George Burns and Gracie Allen were making $5,000, Artie was making $60,000.
Shaw died at 94 in 2004 in Californina.