Woody Herman

Biography

He was born in 1931, He started playing the saxophone when he was 11 and 4 years later he was a professional musician. He gained his early experience playing with the bands of Tom Gerun, Harry Sosnik and Gus Arnheim. In 1934 he joined the Isham Jones Orchestra and when Isham Jones decided to disband the orchestra Woody Herman formed a band out of the members that chose to say. The majority of the recordings he made in this period emphasized vocals but his band became known for its instrumentals. He recorded the theme "At the Woodchopper's ball" in 1939 it was his first hit.
By 1943 the Woody Herman Orchestra was becoming the Herd. This band was later renamed the First Herd. Duke Ellington influenced Herman's band during this period. By 1945 Herman had an essentially new orchestra during this period the band was considered the most exciting new big band in jazz. Woody Herman broke up the First Herd because of family troubles. Unfortunately the break came at the height of the bands success in 1946. It was the only one of his orchestras to really make money. Herman formed the Second Herd in mid 1947. This band was not as extroverted as the original Herd but still had some popular numbers such as "The Goof and I".  After this group also known as the Four Brothers came to an end, Herman started the Third Herd, which was a little more conservative than the first 2 herds.  This band was together from 1950-56. After this he started the Thundering Herd in 1959. The band was a success through the 1960's. He toured with them throughout the 70's and 80's. He celebrated his 50th year as a bandleader in 1986. He died in 1987. One of the sad things about his later years was that the IRS hounded him, due to his manager not paying out taxes from his sidemen's salaries during the 1960's.