Born in Chicago, Illinois to a well-to-do family, Pollack was largely self taught as a drummer, and was afforded the opportunity to become the drummer for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, a top jazz outfit, in the early '20s. In 1924 he played for several outfits, including some on the west coast, which ultimately led to his forming a band there in 1925. One of the earliest members of his band was Gil Rodin, a saxophonist whose sharp business acumen served him well later as an executive for the Music Corporation of America (MCA). Rodin also served as the "straw boss' for Pollack along with the young arranger-trombonist Glenn Miller. Already recognized as immensely talented on the clarinet, sixteen-year-old Benny Goodman began working with Pollack in 1925 as well.
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