The End of the Swing Era

Miller_Glenn The swing era was killed by a number of factors, World War  2 being  one of them. Although swing music was popular among the  sailors  and soldiers off at war, the war drafted many of the band  members  forcing the remainder of the band to hire unskilled  performers.  Glenn Miller broke up his band and joined the Army  Air Corpse  (which later split from the Army to become the Air  Force) where  Glenn Miller was lost. Fuel rationing also hurt swing  bands – band  tours became next to impossible.

 Another factor can be blamed on the Musicians Union which went  on strike on August 1, 1942. No agreement was made until  September of 1943 when Decca Records made an agreement. Blue  Note followed in November, and other record labels later that year. However, most swing bands were signed to Columbia and Victor Records. These two record labels would not settle until November 1944, a full 27 months; that’s over 2 years in which no swing bands from these two labels were published.

Fred+Astaire++Ginger+Rogers However, singers were not part of the Musicians Union, and thus they were not on  strike and could be recorded. The result of this was that singers became popular and the  bands, particularly swing bands, diminished in status.

 Additional factor was a cabaret tax in 1941 causing clubs to pay 30% of their ticket sales  in taxes. This meant that bands that were hired by the clubs had to be smaller and  cheaper, something swing bands – especially swing jazz big bands – could not easily  adjusted to.

 A new jazz sound, Bebop, began to grow in popularity as did the inexpensive rhythm &  blues bands.

iwantworkdepressiondetnews Finally, with the end of the what became known as World War 2 and of what became  known as the Great Depression, people did not want to be reminded of either of them. Swing, which became popular during the depression and was so popular when the war started, became a reminder of those bad years. With the bad memories and the bad emotions that swing music brought back to mind, people simply  stopped listening.

With that the Swing Era was dead.

 Very soon, partner dancing in general would be dead, too. East coast swing, the dance that  replaced  Lindy Hop at the end of the Swing Era, as well as dances like the Waltz, Foxtrot, and  others would die  off when in the early 1960s, Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” killed partner  dancing.