Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson (1897–1952) was an pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer. He was arguably one of the most important artists in the development of big band and swing music. Henderson's influence was huge. He helped bridge the gap between the Dixieland era and the Swing era. 

In 1924, a 23 year old Louis Armstrong joined the band. Quickly after that the band became known as the best African-American band in New York. Although Armstrong played in the band for only a year, his influence on the band and the big band genre can not be ignored.

Armstrong wasn't the only big name to play in Henderson's band. The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra was filled with incredible talent, including, of course, Fletcher himself. Names that most big band fans know and love such as Coleman Hawkins, Henry "Red" Allen, Benny Carter, Doc Cheatham, Roy Eldridge and many more.

In addition to arrangements for his band, Henderson wrote arrangements for Teddy Hill, Isham Jones and most importantly, Benny Goodman

In 1935, Goodman's Orchestra was selected as a house band for the NBC radio program Let's Dance. Since Goodman needed new songs every week for the show, he began to purchase some from Henderson. Many of Goodman's hits were played by Henderson and his own band in the 1920's and early 1930's.

In 1939, Henderson disbanded his band and joined up with Benny Goodman's band. He served as pianist and arranger and staff arranger. 

He re-formed bands of his own a few times in the 1940's but Henderson suffered a stroke in 1950.  Fletcher survived the stoke but the resulting partial paralysis ended his days as a pianist. In 1952, Henderson sadly passed away at the age of 55. 

You can hear plenty of Fletcher Henderson's songs on our shows Swing City: After Dark and The Saturday Night Swing including the songs: Sugar Foot Stomp, My Pretty Girl, Money Blues and many others.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Connect with Swing City Radio

Listen To The Weekly Podcast

Swing City Radio - Tote Bag

Your Thoughts


Email *

Message *