b. USA. Billed as ‘The Young Man Who Sings The Old Songs’, Strong began his career in Chicago, Illinois, USA, as a teenager. After singing at a political rally he earned the chance to lead a local theatre band. Paul Ash subsequently spotted his talent and brought him to his Oriental Theater show. However, when his voice changed, he found himself unable to sing in his accustomed style, and trained in drumming and tap dancing instead. He formed his own dance band for an initial engagement at the Brown Hotel, in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1938. Their popularity was almost instantaneous, bolstered by regular radio appearances in the 40s. However, their career was interrupted when Strong entered the services. He resumed immediately after the end of World War II, leading a band as well known for its highly visual presentation as its ‘sweet’ blend of music. Alongside original compositions, the orchestra was predominantly geared towards ‘oldies’. Strong’s dalliance with numerous record companies continued, including Coral Records, Imperial Records, Heartbeat, Winit, Crescendo and Capitol Records. These releases included the band’s two staples, ‘That Old Gang Of Mine’ and ‘That Certain Party’. Before he retired Strong took the band on to television, for a remote transmission from the Trianon Ballroom in California in 1952. Later in the decade he swapped careers to take over the management of a radio station in San Francisco. He resumed band leading soon after, though never again on a permanent, professional footing.
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