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Dave Tough (April 26, 1907 – December 9, 1948, was an American jazz drummer associated with Dixieland and swing jazz in the 1930s and 1940s.

Dave Tough
Dave Tough 1947 (Gottlieb 08701).jpg
Dave Tough in Eddie Condon's basement, c. 1947
Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameDavid Jarvis Tough
Born(1907-04-26)April 26, 1907
Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
DiedDecember 9, 1948(1948-12-09) (aged 41)
Newark, New Jersey
Years active1925–1948



Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Tough was a friend of Bud Freeman, who was part of a group of musicians known as the Austin High School Gang in Chicago. In 1925, he became a professional musician, playing with Jack Gardner, Art Kassel, Sig Meyers, and Husk O'Hare's Wolverines. After two years in Europe, he returned home and played with Benny Goodman and Red Nichols.[1]

He left music for three years until 1935, then joined the big bands of Ray Noble, Tommy Dorsey, Red Norvo, Bunny Berigan, and Benny Goodman.[1][2] He played Dixieland jazz with Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden, Mezz Mezzrow, and Joe Marsala. In the 1940s, he played in a naval band led by Artie Shaw, then joined Woody Herman's big band. He worked with Eddie Condon, Jerry Gray, Muggsy Spanier, and Jazz at the Philharmonic.[1]

Tough struggled with alcoholism throughout his life. He died at the age of 41 after falling down and hitting his head on the street in Newark, New Jersey.[1]

Critical receptionEdit

Dave Tough has been described as "the most important of the drummers of the Chicago circle".[2]

Awards and honorsEdit

In 2000, he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.


With Benny Goodman

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Dave Tough". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b Berendt, Joachim E. (1976). The Jazz Book. Paladin., p. 286