Woodrow Charles Herman, known as Woody Herman, was an American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and big band leader. Leading various groups called “The Herd,” Herman was one of the most popular of the 1930s and ’40s bandleaders. His bands basically played jazz and blues, often including rather experimental material for their time.
Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 16, 1913.
His parents were Otto and Myrtle Herrman. His father had a deep love for show business and this influenced Woody Herman at an early age. As a child he worked as a singer in vaudeville, then became a professional saxophone player at age 15. In 1931, he met Charlotte Neste, an aspiring actress. They later married, September 27, 1936. Woody Herman joined the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were “Lonesome Me” and “My Heart’s At Ease”.
Herman also performed with the Harry Sosnick orchestra and Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones. Isham Jones wrote many popular songs, including “It Had To Be You” and at some point was tiring of the demands of leading a band. Jones wanted to live off the residuals of his songs. Woody Herman saw the chance to lead Isham Jones’ former band. Woody Herman eventually acquired the remains of Jones’ orchestra after Isham Jones decided to retire.