Glen Gray

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Glen Gray
Glen Gray Billboard.jpg
Background information
Also known as Spike
Born (1906-06-07)June 7, 1906
Roanoke, Illinois, United States
Died August 23, 1963(1963-08-23) (aged 57)
Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Jazz, big band
Occupation(s) Bandleader
Instruments Saxophone
Years active 1915–1963
Labels Brunswick, Decca, Capitol
Associated acts Casa Loma Orchestra

Glen Gray (June 7, 1906 – August 23, 1963) was an American jazz saxophonist and leader of the Casa Loma Orchestra.[1]

Early years[edit]

Gray was born in Roanoke, Illinois. (Another source says that Gray was born in Metamora, Illinois, and his family moved to Roanoke when he was an infant.)[2] His father was a lifelong railroad worker who died when Glen was two years of age.[3] His widowed mother married George H. DeWilde. Gray graduated from Roanoke High School, where he played basketball.[2] He is said to have joined the Army at seventeen, and two years later he was living at home with his family. He was employed as a bill clerk for the railroad. He attended Illinois Wesleyan University, where he joined Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, but left to work for the Santa Fe Railroad.[citation needed]


Gray attended the American Conservatory of Music in 1921 but left during his first year to go to Peoria, Illinois, to play with George Shaschert's orchestra. From 1924 to 1929, he played with several orchestras in Detroit, Michigan.[2]

In 1927, Gray's Orange Blossoms Band was renamed the Casa Loma Orchestra, after Casa Loma in Toronto, where the band played for eight months. Gray collaborated with the jazz musician Jean Goldkette, and with trumpeter/arranger Salvador Camarata. He gave Betty George her first job as a soloist. Ill health forced Gray to retire from touring in 1950.[citation needed]

In 1956, he went back into the studio to record the first of what became a series of LPs for Capitol Records, which recreated the sounds of the big band era in stereo.[4] Casa Loma in Hi-Fi was the result, with 14 high-fidelity recordings.[2]

Gray died in Plymouth, Massachusetts of lymphoma, aged 57.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Gray and his wife had one son.[2]


  1. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk Glen Gray". Los Angeles Times. 25 August 1963. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Holloway, Tony (February 3, 1957). "Glen Gray Top Band Leader for 20 Years". The Pantagraph. Illinois, Bloomington. p. 6. Retrieved May 7, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ Borgman, George A. (October 2006). "Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra". The Mississippi Rag. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Glen Gray Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2, pg. 114.

External links[edit]