Les Brown, Sr. was born March 14, 1912 in Tower City, Pennsylvania. He began playing sax at an early age and made his professional debut in a band at age nine. At age 14 he formed his own orchestra.
After graduating from New York Military Academy in 1932, Brown attended college at Duke University where he led the group Les Brown and His Blue Devils. The band performed regularly on Duke’s campus and up and down the east coast. Brown took the band on an extensive tour in 1936. At the end of the summer, some of the band members returned to Duke to continue their education, others stayed on with Brown and continued to tour, becoming the Band of Renown in 1938.
A few years later, in 1945, this band brought Doris Day into prominence with their recording of “Sentimental Journey”.
The song’s release coincided with the end of WWII in Europe and became the unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans. The band had nine other number-one hit songs, including “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”.
Les Brown and the Band of Renown performed with Bob Hope on radio, stage and TV for almost fifty years. They did 18 USO Tours for American troops around the world, and entertained over three million people. Tony Bennett was “discovered” by Bob Hope and made his first public performance with Les and the Band.
The first feature length film that Les and the band appeared in was the war-time movie “Seven Days Leave” starring Victor Mature and Lucille Ball. “Rock-A-Billy Baby”, a low budget 1957 film, was the Band of Renown’s second movie and in 1963, they appeared in Jerry Lewis’ comedy The Nutty Professor.
Les Brown and the Band were also the house band for the Steve Allen show (1959-1961) and the Dean Martin Variety Show (1963-1972). Brown and the band performed with virtually every major performer of their time, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat “King” Cole.
Les Brown Jr. In 2001, Les Brown Jr. became the full-time leader of the Band of Renown. They continue to perform throughout the world and have a regular big band show in Branson, Mo. Les Brown Jr. also hosts a national radio show on the Music Of Your Life network. Les Jr. was a television actor in the 1960s (Gunsmoke, General Hospital, Gilligan’s Island), a rock musician and producer who worked with Carlos Santana, and a concert promoter for many country music artists including Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. In 2004 Les Brown Jr. received the Ambassador of Patriotism award from the POW Network.
Les Brown Sr. died in January 4, 2001 n Los Angeles. The Band of Renown now performs under the direction of his son Les Brown, Jr.