Music would be a way out of the drudgery of his father's bakery in a small Pennsylvania town, a young Les Brown once hoped. It became his ticket to the top of the entertainment world.
Brown and his Band of Renown made the hit parade in the 1940s with tunes like "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio," "Sentimental Journey" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."
The longtime bandleader for comedian Bob Hope, Brown was a fixture on radio, television and in concerts for nearly six decades.
Up until 2000, he was still touring with his group, playing 60 concert dates a year.
Never considered in the top rank of big band leaders with names like Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, Brown nevertheless offered the public spirited renditions of the broad range of popular music from the American songbook.
Brown was born in Reinerton, Pa. His father made a living as a baker but also played the soprano saxophone and was the town bandmaster. Brown and his three brothers learned music at home, Brown playing saxophone and later clarinet. He played his first gig, a local dance, at the age of 9.
He received his formal musical training first at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in upstate New York, then at Duke University, where he also led his first dance band, the Duke Blue Devils, on saxophone and clarinet.
One of the founding fathers of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Brown served as the first president of the Los Angeles chapter and helped get the first Grammy Awards programs televised by convincing Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to participate.