Born in April of 1907, Dave Tough was famous (and infamous) for several things. He was a subtle and versatile drummer who hated to solo. He was an intellectual whose career was often rather aimless. Tough was also a painfully thin alcoholic whose drinking got him into trouble on a regular basis and shortened his life. Although he did not officially attend Austin High School (he was at nearby Oak Park High), Dave Tough was early on associated with the Austin High Gang, becoming a close friend of Bud Freeman. Tough played at holiday resorts during his summer vacations of 1923 and 1924 and then became a fulltime musician the following year.
After playing with Sig Meyers, Husk O'Hare's Wolverines, Art Kassel and Jack Gardner among others, Tough and Danny Polo took a boat to Europe in 1927. He spent two years overseas, mostly playing with George Carhart on the Continent, returned to the U.S. briefly, and then went back to Paris and worked with Mezz Mezzrow and Carhart again. After coming back home in May 1929, Tough worked with Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, played locally in Chicago and then took time off due to illness. Tough was largely outside of music during much of 1932-35.