Gray Gordon: saxophonist, bandleader, professional manager, native son of Freeport, Illinois.

As a high schooler in Freeport, Jerome Rohkar played sax in a hometown band known as the Pretzel Five. After moving to Chicago and later forming his own band, he changed his name to "Gray Gordon." That band became known as the Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra because of the distinctive sound from temple blocks being played at the beginning of many of their selections. After abandoning his career as bandleader, he delved into professional management, with his most notable clients including Les Paul and Mary Ford. Although having passed away in New York City at the age of 72, Gray Gordon would forever be revered by the people of Freeport as the local kid who made it to the bigtime in music.

People danced to a Freeporter's tunes

Freeport Journal Standard, September 6-7, 1968 -reprinted with permission

There was a time when the whole country was dancing to the tunes of a Freeport born and bred bandleader and composer. One of the early dance orchestras that made it big when a dance craze was sweeping the nation, was led by a man whose first go at it was with a group of Freeport musicians known as The Pretzel Five...


Memories of famous bandleader are stirred

Freeport Journal Standard, September 13-14, 1968 -reprinted with permission

Digging around in local history often stirs up memories when least expected. The story of Jerome Rohkar, widely known as Gray Gordon, popular orchestra leader, did that for a few individuals. It turns out that the daughter of one of the members of The Pretzel Five...


Jukebox Player

Back in the late 1940's through the mid 1950's a very popular music player could be found at soda fountains, restaurants, bars, or anyplace where people might spend a nickel, dime, or even a quarter to hear their favorite tunes. Although the Tic Toc Rhythm sounds had faded by then, here's what might have been...


Record Collection

Found tucked away in a family's dusty attic were several record albums from days gone by. Each album contained several of the old shellac resin 78rpm records of music from the 1930's and 1940's. Among these was a dozen of Gray Gordon's Tic Toc Orchestra recordings. Their digital transcriptions are collected here...