1909Benjamin David Goodman born Chicago on May 30, the ninth of twelve children.
1919Given his first clarinet by a local synagogue. Studies with Franz Schoepp of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
1921Professional debut in Chicago theatre, performing an imitation of Ted Lewis.
1923Leaves school to play with local bands, including riverboat orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke.
1926Makes record debut in Chicago and first New York appearance, both with Ben Pollack.
1934Organizes big band for successful audition for Billy Rose’s Music Hall in New York City. After Music Hall engagement reorganizes the band for a regular spot on coast-to-coast NBC radio program, “Let’s Dance.” Follows up six-month series by taking the band on a cross-country tour.
1935Scores first big success when band opens at Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles on August 21, marking the beginning of the swing era.
1936The Goodman Trio, with Teddy Wilson on piano and Gene Krupa on drums, first performs in public. Begins CBS “Camel Caravan” radio program, acclaimed by critics as best-ever swing series. Program continues through 1939. Goodman Quartet formed in August with addition of Lionel Hampton on vibraphone.
1937Band’s power, precision, and varied talents stun audiences at New York’s Paramount Theatre. Star performer in Warner Brothers’ “Hollywood Hotel” – film still shown on TV as best of its kind.
1938Goodman Orchestra performs unprecedented Carnegie Hall jazz concert, January 16. Makes his first classical recording with Budapest String Quartet.
1939Switches from Victor to Columbia record label. New Sextet formed on west coast, featuring Lionel Hampton, Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Christian, Art Bernstein and Nick Fatool. Performs a second Carnegie Hall concert.
1940Classical recording of “Contrasts” with Bela Bartok and Joseph Szigeti, composed for Goodman by Bartok.
1942Appears with all-star band in RKO’s “Syncopation.” Married Alice Hammond Duckworth March 21. Begins series of Hollywood films (1942-1944): “The Powers Girl,” “Stage Door Canteen,” “The Gang’s All Here,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “Make Mine Music.” Records V-Discs and Armed Forces transcriptions throughout World War II.
1944New Benny Goodman Quintet opens in Billy Rose stage show “The Seven Lively Arts,” also featuring Beatrice Lillie and Bert Lahr.
1947Disbands big band and begins to work primarily with small groups.
1948Appears in RKO-Samuel Goldwyn film “A Song Is Born” with Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and others.
1950Tours Europe with new Sextet.
1951Makes classical recordings with American Art Quartet and with Leonard Bernstein. Original 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert recording rediscovered and released by Columbia with phenomenal success.
1955Records soundtrack for Universal-International film biography “The Benny Goodman Story” starring Steve Allen.
1956Makes tour of Far East for U.S. State Department and ANTA, with concerts in Japan, Burma, Cambodia, Malaya, Hong Kong and Thailand. Command performances for King of Cambodia, King of Thailand; palace jam sessions with alto saxophonist and jazz buff King of Thailand.
1957Readers of Down Beat magazine elect Benny Goodman to All-Time Jazz Hall of Fame.
1958Engagement at Brussels World’s Fair makes American Pavilion the fair’s most popular exhibit.
1959Tours Europe with 10-piece group; returns with group to New York’s Basin Street to break all attendance records. Russian composers Shostakovich, Kabalevsky and Khrennikov visit Basin Street and praise Goodman’s virtuosity.
1961First tour of South America, where big band plays to SRO crowds in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
1962Unprecedented jazz tour of Soviet Union under auspices of U.S. State Department Cultural Exchange Program. Six-week visit highlighted by celebrated “debate” with Nikita Khrushchev, with Benny defending modern art and music. Their meeting is memorialized by NBC-TV in “The World of Benny Goodman.”
1964Tours Japan with a small group; all concerts oversubscribed.
1966New Sextet plays Rainbow Grill in Rockefeller Center – Goodman’s first engagement there. Sextet is star attraction at the Comblain-la-Tour, Belgium, Jazz Festival. Highlights of this concert are broadcast as a one-hour Bell Telephone TV special.
1969A bio-discography, Benny Goodman – On the Record, by D.R. Conner is published. It is described by a leading critic as “the most comprehensive work ever published on any jazz figure.” King Phumiphu of Thailand visits Goodman.
1970Tours Europe with 16-piece band of English musicians. Their Stockholm concert is recorded live and released as a London Records album.
1972Time/Life publishes handsomely illustrated three-record album titled “The King in Person.”
1973The Benny Goodman Sextet makes a two-week tour of Australia. The original Quartet gives three memorable performances at Carnegie Hall and in Chicago and Saratoga.
1974An hour-long TV special features both big band and all-star small group, with guests Cleo Laine and Mel Torme. In another TV program Goodman is soloist with the Boston Pops, under Arthur Fiedler. A concert in Helsinki is televised throughout Scandinavia.
1975Performs Copland Clarinet Concerto in San Salvador, with the composer conducting the Brazil Symphony. Grammy Award for “Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert” (1938).
1976Penetrates the “Iron Curtain” again, this time to give jazz concerts in Warsaw, Prague and Budapest. Receives Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Union College and Southern Illinois University.
1977Profiled by Whitney Balliett in The New Yorker.
1978The first State of California Jazz Award is presented to Benny Goodman by Governor Brown in the State Senate.
1979In October William Morrow & Company published a pictorial volume spanning his life, Benny – King of Swing.
1981David Brinkley’s “NBC Magazine” tribute to Goodman was televised in April. In February, Benny recorded the soundtrack of the feature film, “Fantasma D’Amore,” starring Marcello Mastroianni and Romy Schneider, in Rome. A November White House reception for King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan featured the Benny Goodman Quintet. President Reagan told the assembled guests, “You’ve just heard the best there is.”
1982Stereo magazine’s Certificate of Merit was awarded to the renowned clarinetist in January; All Hirschfeld’s new caricature of Benny was its February issue’s cover. Yale University conferred an Honorary Doctor of Music upon Benny in May. Goodman was signally honored in December with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Art’s annual award for “ . . . significant contributions to American Culture.” NBC televised the ceremony on Christmas Day. Goodman also received a Grammy Award for “Sing Sing Sing” (1937).
1984In April the National Academy of Popular Music honored Benny with its “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Harvard University conferred an honorary doctorate of music degree upon Mr. Goodman in June.
1985In the just-opened Marriott Marquis hotel in Manhattan Benny in October videotaped a 90 minute television program for release in March 1986 via PBS. Frank Sinatra, Morton Gould and Bobby Short were three of the program’s hosts; Red Norvo, Teddy Wilson, Slam Stewart and Louis Bellson were featured musicians.
1985Receives First Annual Distinguished Service Award from Hull House, Chicago. Awarded Doctorate of Music from University of Hartford.
1986Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). Receives Doctorates from Columbia University, Brandeis University and Bard College.
1986Several days after performing in his final concert at Wolf Trap, Benny died on June 13 in his Manhattan apartment from cardiac arrest.