This rhythm and blues singer and saxophonist began playing the saxophone as an alternative to violin, which was the preferred instrument of his parents. At the height of his popularity during the 1940's and 1950's his band at once included both Tadd Dameron and saxophonist Benny Golson. He released a number of R&B hits before he retired from touring in the early 1960's.
After retiring his bawdy vibe and punchy saxophone lines continued to live through his influence on younger players and a whole new generation of musicians. In 1975 a progressive rock band covered one of his hits on their album Toys in the Attic.