Dave Tough, born April 26, 1907 in Oak Park, Illinois, was an American jazz drummer closely associated with both Dixieland and swing jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. He is best known for his subtle, yet versatile, approach to the drums.
Tough attended Oak Park High School but had an early association and friendship with Bud Freeman who attended Austin High School. During his summer vacations (1923 and 1924), Tough would play music at various holiday resorts. He started working as a fulltime musician in 1925, playing with Sig Meyers, Husk O'Hare's Wolverines, Art Kassel, Jack Gardner and others.
In 1927, Dave Tough and Danny Polo took a boat to Europe and spent two years playing with George Carhart on the Continent. Tough made a brief return to the USA before returning back to Paris to worked again with Carhart and Mezz Mezzrow.
In May of 1929, Tough returned to the USA once again — working with Benny Goodman, Red Nichols — playing locally throughout Chicago. Tough would later take time off from gigging due to illness; he was largely outside of music business for almost three years (1932-1935).
Throughout his music career, Tough worked with the likes of Bud Freeman, Woody Herman, Eddie Condon, Red Nichols, Red Norvo, Tommy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan and Benny Goodman.
Having struggled with alcoholism and illness throughout his adult life, Dave Tough died at the age of 41 on December 9, 1948 from cerebral trauma after falling down in the street in Newark, NJ.