The first trace of the name George De Leon in 20th century music history is a fellow whose function on low-sounding horns such as tuba and baritone horn anticipates the eventual use of string bass for these functions. He is associated with Jim Europe's Society Orchestra, a group of great interest historically, and not just because the leader wound up getting stabbed to death by the drummer. There is documentation of De Leon in action on his "bass horn" from 1914, part of a period when bandleader Europe worked as musical director for the dance team of Vernon & Irene Castle. This relationship and the Europe group's importance to the growth of ballroom dancing cannot be overstated.
De Leon plays on eight recordings originally issued by the Victor label between late 1913 and the spring of 1914. The interesting instrumental lineup also includes four, sometimes five violins, a pair of cello players, and a small woodwind ensemble. Five years later, drummer Herbert Wright carried out the murderous fantasy of many a player who sits atop the drum throne. Luckily for De Leon, it was Buddy Gilmore who played drums on the Victor sessions -- since, after all, there is a good chance a drummer on a homicidal rampage might wind up stabbing the bass player as well. The only connection between this George De Leon and two later ones -- the psychologist and tenor saxophonist who runs the Phoenix House and a Latin picker -- is that all three utilized New York City as a base.