Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the "King of Swing".
In July 1935, a record of the Goodman band playing the Henderson arrangements of "King Porter Stomp" backed with "Sometimes I'm Happy", Victor 78 25090, had been released to ecstatic reviews in both Down Beat and Melody Maker. In Pittsburgh at the Stanley Theater some of the kids danced in the aisles. This had made little impact on the band's tour until August 19 when they arrived in Oakland to play at McFadden's Ballroom. There, Goodman and his artists Gene Krupa, Bunny Berigan, and Helen Ward found a large crowd of young dancers, raving and cheering the hot music they had heard on the Let's Dance radio show. Herb Caen wrote that "from the first note, the place was in an uproar." One night later, at Pismo Beach, the show was another flop, and the band thought the overwhelming reception in Oakland had been a fluke.
The next night, August 21, 1935 at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, Goodman and his band began a three-week engagement. On top of the Let's Dance airplay, Al Jarvis had been playing Goodman records on KFWB radio, and Los Angeles fans were primed to hear him in person. Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, began the second set with the arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. According to Willard Alexander, the band's booking agent, Krupa said "If we're gonna die, Benny, let's die playing our own thing." The crowd broke into cheers and applause. News reports spread word of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. Over the course of the engagement, the "Jitterbug" began to appear as a new dance craze, and radio broadcasts carried the band's performances across the nation.
In November 1935 Goodman accepted an invitation to play in Chicago at the Joseph Urban Room at the Congress Hotel. His stay there extended to six months and his popularity was cemented by nationwide radio broadcasts over NBC affiliate stations. While in Chicago, the band recorded If I Could Be With You, Stompin' At The Savoy, and Goody, Goody. Goodman also played three special concerts produced by jazz aficionado and Chicago socialite Helen Oakley. These "Rhythm Club" concerts at the Congress Hotel included sets in which Goodman and Krupa sat in with Fletcher Henderson's band, perhaps the first racially integrated big band appearance before a paying audience in the United States. Goodman and Krupa played in a trio with Teddy Wilson on piano. Both combinations were well-received, and Wilson stayed on.
In his 1935–1936 radio broadcasts from Chicago, Goodman was introduced as the "Rajah of Rhythm." Slingerland Drum Company had been calling Krupa the "King of Swing" as part of a sales campaign, but shortly after Goodman and crew left Chicago in May 1936 to spend the summer filming The Big Broadcast of 1937 in Hollywood, the title "King of Swing" was applied to Goodman by the media. Goodman left record company RCA for Columbia, following his agent and soon to be brother-in-law John Hammond.
At the end of June 1936, Goodman went to Hollywood, where, on June 30, 1936 his band began CBS's "Camel Caravan," its third, and, according to Connor and Hicks, its greatest of them all, sponsored radio show, co-starring Goodman and his old boss Nat Shilkret.