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'Goodbye' to Benny Goodman

June 21, 1986

I found Jack Jones' obituary about Benny Goodman (June 14) to be a most delightful recap of the life and music of Benny Goodman. I wish to correct one myth that appeared in the article.

Jones, as well as most jazz historians, credit the success of the Benny Goodman engagement in the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles to the time differential between Eastern and Pacific Coast time. It is true that the western stations did have a large selection of live eastern bands to put on the air each evening. Those time slots were usually set up on 15-minute intervals. The few Los Angeles stations that were still on the air after 9 o'clock tried to cover as many bands as possible. The Goodman band was just one of a large number of popular bands available, so his band really didn't get very much live air coverage, that summer, in the Los Angeles area.

The credit for Goodman's success in Southern California (beside the band itself) should go to the very popular disc jockey of that time, Al Jarvis, and his KFWB Make Believe Ballroom radio show.

For two months before B.G. and band arrived in L.A., Jarvis went all out to introduce the Goodman music to his listeners. He played Goodman records and gave away free opening night tickets on every broadcast. He even organized a group of young people to meet the train when they came into Los Angeles.

When the band opened that Aug. 21, 1935 evening, Al Jarvis had that ballroom packed with young people ready and waiting for the Goodman sound.

It was a very successful engagement, thanks largely to the great spade work done by our own Al Jarvis and not the live radio coverage as reported by Jones in his otherwise fine article.



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