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Dick Jurgens and His Orchestra

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Biography

b. 9 November 1911, Sacramento, California, USA, d. 5 October 1995, Sacramento, California, USA. Jurgens, was an accomplished trumpeter by the age of 14. He and his brother Will formed their first band for summer camps at Lake Tahoe, working as rubbish collectors when not playing. Within three years the unit had been booked for a residency at a local hotel staying until offered a spot at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco in 1934. They developed into a polished band with a rich ensemble sound that was ideal for hotel and ballroom work, and vocals by guitarist Eddy Howard, an old friend from Sacramento. Jurgens was resident at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, the Elitch Gardens in Denver, and the Avalon Ballroom on Catalina Island, according to the season. He recorded for Decca Records, Vocalion Records, OKeh Records and Columbia Records and did many radio transcriptions, issued on Hindsight in the 70s. Jurgens also composed evergreens like ‘Careless’, ‘If I Knew Then’, ‘Elmer’s Tune’, ‘A Million Dreams Ago’ and ‘One Dozen Roses’, which, as well as being covered by other artists, gave his band hit records without reaching the million-sellers. During World War II service in the US Marine Corps, Dick and Will formed an entertainment unit to tour the South Pacific war areas. Back in civilian life Jurgens returned to the Aragon and Trianon Ballrooms in Chicago until 1956, when he went into business outside the profession. After a break of 13 years he was asked to form a band for the Willowbrook Club outside Chicago, and continued playing there till his retirement in 1976. Singer Don Ring bought the rights to the band’s name and library in 1986, and the New Dick Jurgens Orchestra has a permanent residency at Ring’s Park Ponderosa Ballroom in McFarland, Wisconsin.

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