During its heyday in the late 1920s and early 1930s Gus Arnheim's orchestra was stationed at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. The most popular band on the West coast, it featured several good singers, including, for a time, Bing Crosby.
Arnheim got his start with a group called the Syncopated Five, which also featured Abe Lyman on drums. He subsequently took theatre jobs then played for a while as Sophie Tucker's accompanist before working again with Lyman. He formed his aforementioned Cocoanut Grove orchestra in 1927. In 1929 they took a short leave of absence from the Grove to play at London's Savoy Hotel and the Ambassadeurs Club in Paris.
In 1930 Arnheim engaged male singing trio the Rhythm Boys, of which Crosby was a member, from Paul Whiteman's orchestra. Crosby recorded his first solo hit, ''I Surrender Dear,'' with Arnheim. In the late 1930s Arnheim revamped and updated his group, scoring big at the Congress Casino in Chicago with his new swinging sound. Arnheim alumni include Stan Kenton, Jimmie Grier, Shirley Ross, Russ Columbo, Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, actor Fred McMurray (sax), and game show host Art Fleming (drums). Arnheim retired from the band business after the war. He died in 1955.