Artie Shaw, the bandleader who was an integral part of the Big Band era, died Thursday at his home in Thousand Oaks, California. He was 94.
Shaw had been battling adult onset diabetes. His personal assistant, Larry Rose, said he likely died of complications of the disease.
“He just reached a point where he was tired of fighting. He wasn’t able to really enjoy life anymore,” Rose told the AP.
Eddie Ezor, Shaw’s friend and attorney, told the AP that he died of natural causes.
One of the most successful bandleaders of the 1930s and 40s, he walked away from the music business in the 50s to concentrate on writing. He was a perfectionist and said he could not achieve the level of artistry he desired, reports E.
“It was like cutting off an arm that had gangrene,” Shaw is quoted as saying. “I had to cut it off to live. I’d be dead if I didn’t stop. The better I got, the higher I aimed. People loved what I did, but I had grown past it. I got to the point where I was walking in my own footsteps.”
At 28, his band recorded “Begin the Beguine,” arguably his biggest hit, and a chart topper for six weeks in 1938. He was also a successful jazz clarinettist.
He worked with the legends: Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Gordon Jenkins, and Billie Holiday.
He was also known for his famous wives. He was married to Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Evelyn Keyes, and author Kathleen Winsor.