Tom Nolan's new biography of Artie Shaw, Three Chords for Beauty's Sake, provides many insights into Shaw's character and bands through the years. Among the book's many high points are Shaw's own unfiltered reflections on musicians, wives and personalities he knew during his long life (Shaw, pictured, died in December 2004 at age 94).
Here's Shaw on drummer Buddy Rich and saxophonist Georgie Auld:
"I didn't like [Buddy], as a guy, at all. I said he had one quality, though, which was exuberance; he was full of that. It bubbled! That's what came out in his playing. Later [at Buddy's funeral in 1987], I'm talking to Mel Brooks, outside the funeral home. And Georgie Auld—he turned out to be a fucking gangster, horrible guy—he comes up: 'You're fulla shit. You're fulla shit.' 'Wadya mean, George? Wadya talkin' about?' I said, 'Is that your considered opinion? Is there anything you want to add to that?'
"George [pictured] was disappointed he wasn't called on to speak [at Buddy's funeral], and he was very angry. 'You're fulla shit.' That's all he could say! Chagrin! What—I dunno, he identified himself with me, and he never could quite make it, as a star, you know, whatever it was. Angered him. Infuriated him. When I quit the music, man [in 1939], I gave him the band; I gave him my book. He could not make it work. He didn't have the quality that it took. Certain people don't."
Much more in Tom Nolan's Three Chords for Beauty's Sake here.