Bernie Cummins

b. Bernard Joseph Cummins, 14 March 1900, Akron, Ohio, USA. Dance band leader Bernie Cummins originally started his musical career as a drummer. However, as his group grew Cummins took over its leadership, and they played their first ballroom engagement at the Toadstool Inn in Indiana in 1919. From then on Cummins’ group, which included such sidemen as Walter Cummins (his brother), Carl Radlach, Paul Miller, Paul Roberts, Bernard Rohenstien, Eddie Lane, Charlie Callas, Paul Blakely, Ernie Mathias, Wally Smith, Bob Gebhart, Bill Diehl, Jimmy McMillen, Dippy Johnson, Ford Cansfield, Church Campbell, Thurman Steeler, Chet Jones, Winston Leach, Don McLure, Paul Thatcher and Fred Benson, became an enormously popular fixture of night-clubs, hotels and halls throughout America. Some of their most prestigious engagements included the Aragon Ballroom, the Trianon Ballroom, Edgewater Beach Hotel and the Blackstone Hotel (all Chicago), the Raddisson (Minnesota), the Muehlbach (Kansas City), the Roosevelt (New Orleans), the Baker (Dallas), and the Palace and St. Francis (San Francisco). They also played at entertainment parks, including Elitch’s Gardens in Denver. As well as extensive radio coverage, Cummins’ band was also among the most widely recorded of the whole dance band era. Their contracts included Gennett, Vocalion Records, Bluebird Records, Decca Records, Brunswick Records, Victor Records and Columbia Records, effectively all the major recording houses of the time. By the 50s the band’s popularity allowed its leader to find employment on the Las Vegas entertainment strip, until he eventually retired from bandleading in 1959.

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