His was the band most identified with the Savoy, and he took on all comers in the battles with other groups. You can almost see it… devotees of both bands cramming into every space (and no air conditioning in those days) cheering and applauding wildly for every solo as the bands alternated sets. One night Benny Goodman brought his group in for an unforgettable marathon that left listeners amazed. The story is that Chick’s band won, but does it matter? The music was the thing. (Goodman did take one thing away though — “Stompin’ At The Savoy” — a song co-written by Webb and one that became a big hit for Benny.)
Webb introduced a lot of future stars during those years he ruled the Savoy (for example, a 17- year old named Ella Fitzgerald, who made her name on his band’s biggest hit, “A Tisket A Tasket") but his ongoing physical ills caught up to him and he died before the decade ended, at the young age of 37.
Our samples were recorded in 1937 and 1938 and are from the album, The Essence Of Swing. The first tune demonstrates Webb’s drumming style right at the start. It’s called Liza. Following that up is a song recorded by a lot of bands, but not many of them had someone as good as Ella on vocal. It’s called The Dipsy Doodle.