A son of affluent Oak Park, Illinois parents, Tough's interest for drumming was not fully supported by
his family or community. Fortunately his suburban Chicago home allowed Tough to find his way to
southside Chicago exposing him to an exciting and evolving jazz scene. Here Tough broke cultural and
musical boundaries taking the scene's fresh sense back to a seemingly different suburban upper-
middle class world.
He worked with such musicians as Bud Freeman, Woody Herman, Eddie Condon, Red Nichols, Red
Norvo, Tommy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan and Benny Goodman. Berendt describes him as "one of the most
subtle and inspired of drummers" with "a rhythmic palette on which he held in readiness the right
colour for each soloist".
In the later 1920s, Tough floated between Nice and Paris doing free-lance work