Ernie Fields, a “territory” band leader, made his mark in the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1904 and raised in Taft, Oklahoma, Fields settled in Tulsa after graduating in 1921 from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He led The Royal Entertainers, which became one of Tulsa’s most popular dance orchestras during the 1920s. The Great Depression forced him to take his own band on the road in the early 1930s.
The Ernie Fields Orchestra became one of the most popular groups among African Americans in the Southwest. His mambo-style version of “In The Mood” shot into the top 10 on the pop charts. He retired in the late 1960s, settling in Tulsa until his death in 1997. Ernie Fields Jr. followed his father’s footsteps into the music business as a saxophonist.