June Cole was a male jazz performer whose career began in the '20s, the former detail clearly indicated by his full name, June Lawrence Cole. He appears to have tried out every kind of bass instrument used in jazz, including the popular choice of the early times, tuba, as well as string bass and bass saxophone. Had he not died prior to the popularization of synth bass he might have played that as well. His first professional gig was with the Synco Jazz Band in his native Springfield, OH. This group evolved into the original McKinney's Cotton Pickers, with Cole still in the lineup. In late 1926, Cole finally left this outfit to join Fletcher Henderson, staying until 1928 and an opportunity to tour Europe with bandleader Benny Peyton.
Cole became one of the earlier American jazzmen to try a longer stay in Europe, moving from the Peyton outfit to that of Sam Wooding, and then finally joining up with the grand expatriate Willie Lewis, a man whose gigs provided plenty of players with money to buy everything from croissants to cappuccino. In 1941, Cole finally returned to the U.S. and began leading his own groups in New York City as well as working in a quartet led by Willie "The Lion" Smith. While he never gave up playing music, there was a period beginning in the '50s when players and jazz fans alike were more likely to run into him when shopping for records: Cole was the proprietor of a popular record shop located in Harlem. His gigs in this era were on a local basis around the Big Apple, including venues such as Club 845, Small's, and Wells' Bar. He should not be confused with the female June Cole, a background vocalist on reggae recordings.