For more than seven decades, Texas-bred George Buddy Tate graced the American jazz scene with his hard-blowing tenor saxophone style. A resilient tone with high register inflections in the so-called Texas tenor sound distinguished Tate among his swing era colleagues. He was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra during the late 1930s and 1940s and later became a bandleader in his own right
By most accounts, Tate was born George Holmes Tate on February 22, 1913, in Sherman, Texas. He began performing in 1925 while still in his teens when his brother handed him an instrument and asked him to play tenor saxophone with the family quartet called McCloud's Night Owls. Tate and the Night Owls learned to play largely by listening to recordings by Louis Armstrong and mimicking the sound. The band toured professionally for the next four years, after which Tate continued to play the horn, performing with a series of territory bands and with circus bands until the early 1930s when he toured the south-western United States with Nathan Towles' band. During those early years, Tate spent time with Terrence Holder's band from 1930-33 and toured with Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy in 1934-35.