“The Road Father”
Woodrow Charles “Woody” Herman was born May 16, 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a famous big band leader, American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, and singer. His father Otto was a big influence in his early years of childhood, because Otto was in love with show business. Woody started his career as a young child singing and tap-dancing and by the time he was 12 years old he began playing clarinet and saxophone. By 1944, he had the band the First Herd. The First Herd was famous for their progressive jazz, which was heavily influenced by other famous jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
His most successful band Herman Band was forced to disband in 1946 and this was Herman’s only financially successful band. He left his band to be supportive of his wife and family while his wife, Charlotte Nestle who was struggling with alcoholism and pill addictions. Fans and Critics have said that the big band era ended in December 1946 when Herman’s band and seven other bands disbanded. Herman created in 1947 the Second Herd band and in the 1950s the Third Herd Band. The Third Herd had a successful tour in Europe. By the 1960s he was famous for hiring many young but stellar up incoming musicians for his Herd Bands.
By the end of the 60s his music library was heavily influenced by rock and roll. He featured brass and woodwind instruments that before this time were not associated with jazz music. Into the 1970s Herman began spreading his knowledge of music through jazz education, which eventually leant him the name as “Road Father.” He kept performing into the 1980s and he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime achievement award in 1987. Herman passed away October 29, 1987.