Monday, July 6, 1987

50 Years Ago: Benny Goodman recorded “Sing Sing Sing”

Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)

Benny Goodman

Writer(s): Louis Prima, Leon Berry (see lyrics here)


Recorded: July 6, 1937


First Charted: April 9, 1938


Peak: 7 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

By the start of the Swing era in 1936, Benny Goodman was its king. He started playing clarinet professionally at the age of 16 and formed his own permanent band by the time he was 25. “Sing, Sing, Sing” was the band’s most renowned performance with solos by Benny as well as drummer Gene Krupa (on his last hit before leaving the band) and trumpeter Harry James. This instrumental includes interpolation of “Christopher Columbus,” PM a Chu Berry song which was written for Fletcher Henderson. SS

“Sing, Sing, Sing,” which Goodman called a “killer diller,” NPR’99 was the closer at the bandleader’s legendary Carnegie Hall concert on January 16, 1938. It was the first time jazz comprised a full concert instead of being part of a larger show SS and marked the birthplace of the legitimacy of the genre. NPR’99

“Sing, Sing, Sing” was written by Louis Prima in 1936, but was dramatically reworked as an instrumental by Goodman to become what Steve Sullivan called “the all-time house rocker of the swing era” in his book Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. SS He credited the song with exemplifying “the sky-high excitement of Big Band jazz at its greatest.” SS

Helen Ward, who was initially slated to sing on the track, noted that Gene Krupa was supposed to stop drumming at the end of the third chorus, but when he kept going, Goodman chimed in with his clarinet. The reslt was an eight-minute cut which took up both sides of a 12-inch 78 rpm record, a break from the traditional three-minute recordings which could fit on a 10-inch 78. WK The recording was immediately well-received: Down Beat magazine’s Tom Collins said the performance “will make record history.” SS


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Last updated 4/18/2021.

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