Benjamin (Benny) David Goodman

by Lori from Warsaw, Ohio

"If a guy's got it, let him give it. I'm selling music not prejudice." Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman
Photo via Wikimedia [public domain]

When most people think of the word hero they think of a big strong person flying around the world saving the day. That's not always the meaning of the word hero though. You see people can be heroes in there own way. Anyone can be a hero, no matter if it is to a thousand people or just one person. A hero is a hero no matter what!

Benny Goodman
Photo via Wikimedia [public domain]

Benny's full name was Benjamin David Goodman. He was born May 30, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were immigrants who had left Russia to escape anti-Semitism. Their names were David and Dora Goodman. His mother learned to speak English. His father worked for a tailor to support his large family which grew into a total of 12 children, Benny being the ninth one born. At ten years old Benny's father sent him to Kehelah Jacob Synagogue where he would learn and study music. He learned to play the clarinet and two of his brothers learned trumpet and tuba. He had a natural and fantastic talent for playing the clarinet that the world had never seen before!

Therefore I chose my hero to be Benjamin David Goodman. He is a hero by inspiration. Benny played the clarinet since he was ten years old. He had so much great success throughout the years! For instance when he was 14 he joined a band that featured the legendary Bix Beiderbeck. At the age of 16 he joined a California-based band led by Ben Pollack; he played in this band for 4 years. In 1929 Benny went out on his own to become a typical New York freelance musician, playing studio dates, leading a pit orchestra, and then making himself a seasoned professional at only 20 years old! Benny was and still is an inspiration of music!

Benny Goodman
Photo via Flickr [public domain]

Benny was "the King of Swing," Over the years he played with the greatest figures in jazz! He played with Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Mildred Bailey, Bessie Smith and countless others. Many of them who had played with Benny later achieved fame as leaders of their own bands, as soloists, or even as movie or TV actors. Benny had a real impact on popular music. Also with the importance of the clarinet in both jazz and classical music. That influenced so many young kids to play the clarinet. Also his national popularity helped to make racially mixed groups more accepted in the mainstream. Benny once said, "If a guy's got it, let him give it. I'm selling music not prejudice," which was a big incident in the music community.

On June 13, 1986 at the age of 77 Benny died of a heart attack. This was a very sad day. Even though Benny has passed, his memory still lives on. He was a hero to many and especially to me. He brought joy to his music which has made a huge impact on the world. He shows that if you put your mind to something you can achieve what you want. Then you can be a hero to those who look up to you for what you have done. So heroes can be your superman type who save people and protect the world, they can be people who make your day brighter with laughter, or they can be musicians who share their talent with the world to make people and themselves happy. Therefore there is not one definition for a hero because there is not one type of hero!

Page created on 3/15/2012 5:33:00 PM

Last edited 5/24/2021 9:38:27 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links


Wilson, John. "Benny Goodman, King Of Swing, Is Dead." [Online] Available

Estate of Benny . "The King Of Swing." [Online] Available

Konvo. "Benny Goodman." [Online] Available .