b. 11 February 1891, Germany, d. 13 July 1958, New York City, New York, USA. Brought to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, as a child, Ash first found musical employment in vaudeville groups, before enrolling for military service during World War I. On his release he moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he founded his first dance band in the early 20s. His group quickly became one of the most popular in the Chicago area, with a string of talented musicians joining the band, including John Valentine, Herbert Nettles, Phil Wing, Harry Barris, Danny Polo, Seger Ellis, Vernon Hayes and Arthur Layfield, with Milton Watson the featured vocalist. Songs such as ‘Thinking Of You’, ‘That’s Why I Love You’ and ‘Who’s Your Sweetheart?’ were recorded for Brunswick Records and Columbia Records, but by the end of the 20s Ash was moving away from straight dance band performances to theatre engagements. After an extended stay at Chicago’s Oriental Theater, the Paul Ash Band relocated to New York where the group’s Paramount Theater performances included the debut of then unknown vocalist Helen Kane. Ash eventually became musical director at the Paramount, before leading the house band at the Roxy Theater from the mid-30s to mid-40s.
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