The leader of a first-class jazz-oriented dance band for over 60 years, Les Brown's music was never innovative but was generally quite pleasing. Brown was born in Reinerton, PA, into the family of a baker. He got started in music early, taking up the saxophone at age seven with the strong encouragement of his father, who played the trombone. He knew how to sight-read before he was ten, and was playing alongside his father by that time at local dances. Brown left high school after one year, choosing instead to attend the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, where he studied theory, harmony, and composition. He passed through the New York Military Academy before landing at Duke University, where he joined the Duke Blue Devils, the university's official dance band, in 1935. Their sound was modeled after the Casa Loma Orchestra, which was then one of the most popular dance bands in the country, especially among college audiences.