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Dean Armstrong Biography   

Dean Armstrong was born and raised in a farming community in Illinois. From a very early age, he dreamed of playing the guitar. When Dean was eight years old, his father traded a calf to a neighbor for an old guitar. He practiced guitar constantly, and during high school, he attended Joliet Conservatory of Music. He later taught guitar at the Conservatory. After graduating from High School, he married his schoolday sweetheart, Ardith. This year, he celebrated his 57th wedding anniversary with her.

Throughout the years, Dean Armstrong has played concerts in Nursing Homes, Crippled Children Facilities, and at Veterans Hospitals. He says the band has performed more than 4,000 concerts. Dean is a member of the Elks, Eagles, Fraternal Order of Police, the Musicians Union, and the Western Music Association. He has received many awards along the way.

Dean served in World War II, in Africa and Italy, and after the European operations ended, the Pacific Theater, Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan. During that time, he entertained with the USO and Special Services, in hospitals and in troop concentrations. When Dean left the Army, he and Ardith moved to Tucson, Arizona, and when he found that there were no western bands in the area, he formed one himself. The band went to work in the Chanticleer Night Spot (no longer there). Two years later, the band moved to larger quarters at The Open Door, where they became the Arizona Dance Hands and added some new members.

The band broadcast their music three days a week on the radio to advertise The Open Door. Gene Autry owned the radio station, KOPO and he was building Tucson's first television station. He asked the band to be on the staff at his television station, also KOPO, which they did.

The group then moved to the larger Tucson Gardens. The band broke up three years later, but Dean Armstrong continued to broadcast television shows every Saturday. Shortly thereafter, the new band went to work at Li'l Abner's Steak House, where they have been regulars for over 40 years.


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