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Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra - JPop.com
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Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra

Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra

Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra


Glen Gray, tall, handsome batoneer of the Casa Loma Orchestra, was born in Roanoke, Illinois. He was an outstanding student and was graduated from high school at 15. He enlisted in the army and his high school education qualified him for officer's training. The war ended two months before he was to receive his commission. Only the armistice prevented him from becoming the youngest army officer in the last war. From that point on, school didn't appeal to Glen. Read more on Last.fm
Glen Gray, tall, handsome batoneer of the Casa Loma Orchestra, was born in Roanoke, Illinois. He was an outstanding student and was graduated from high school at 15. He enlisted in the army and his high school education qualified him for officer's training. The war ended two months before he was to receive his commission.

Only the armistice prevented him from becoming the youngest army officer in the last war. From that point on, school didn't appeal to Glen. He went to work for the Santa Fe Railroad as a freight hustler. In four years, he worked his way up to the position of station cashier.

Glen's sister was the "musician" of the family. She started piano lessons at an early age. Glen toyed with a second hand alto saxophone he bought with money he earned at odd jobs, but he didn't take music seriously. His parents were surprised when suddenly he formed his own band, known as "Spike's Jazz Band," which earned a reputation at school functions around Raonoke.

He has been known as "Spike" ever since. But Doubling in railroad work and music couldn't last forever. Glen chose music, went to Chicago to study at the American Conservatory of Music, would up playing club jobs with Frankie Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, and other jazz immortals of that period. In 1924 he joined Jean Goldkette's Orange Blossoms as saxophonist. in 1929 the Orange Blossoms became the Casa Loma Orchestra.

Incorporated under that name, with Glen as president, saxophonist and leader, the band went to New York and somehow, through haphazard jobs, their morale buoyed by Glen's leadership and enthusiasm, weathered the depression to emerge as one of the nation's three big bands. The Casa Loma Orchestra played swing long before the word was known. Such tunes as "Smoke Rings," "For You," and "Talk of the Town" achieved nationwide popularity through the impetus the Casa Lomans gave them. They were the first swing band on the air for a cigarette sponsor in 1933. Their Decca recording put them at the top in the recording field, and they established house records on cross-country personal appearance tours, playing leading theaters, supper clubs, and ballrooms in key cities.

In Hollywood they made several motion pictures. Glen Gray was married to Marion Douglas, whom he met while playing a one-nighter in Plymouth, Mass. They had one son, Douglas Cunningham Gray. Essentially a family man, Glen took his family with him on various tours whenever possible. He liked hunting, baseball and golf, and kept in rock-hard physical condition through strenuous gym work.

Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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