Bing's boyhood home in Spokane, Washington, was adjacent to the campus of Gonzaga College, a Jesuit institution. In the fall of 1920 Bing entered Gonzaga with the intent of becoming a lawyer. While in Gonzaga he bought a set of mail-order bass drums. Soon Bing was good enough on the drums that he was invited to join a local band composed mostly of high school kids called The Musicaladers, managed by Al Rinker (1907-82) (shown in the photo with Bing). Bing beat the drums and sang with the band in the Spokane area for more than a year. He made so much money with the band that he decided to drop out of college his senior year and concentrate on a career in music. The Musicaladers fell apart at the end of summer, 1925, when several of its members went away to college. A couple months later, in October, Bing and Al piled into Rinker's Model T and left Spokane for Los Angeles where they would seek the help of Rinker's sister, the jazz singer Mildred Bailey, to get into show business. Within 3 weeks after their arrival in L.A. they joined the vaudeville circuit, singing in movie theatres throughout California.
Listen to Al Rinker discuss his years with Bing. (YouTube video)
How did Bing and Al get their big break?
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Written by Steven Lewis