to a musical family, George's love of song came natural to
a young man growing up Detroit. All around him were the sounds and sights
of a bustling city, alive with hot Jazz and boisterous laughter. Taught some
piano by his loving mother, (a devoted school teacher and family patriarch),
this became the basis he would need for the beginning of his musical
interest. In high school, he learned to play the string bass, as well as
the euphonium. His talent at music crescendoed until while during his tour
of duty in Japan after the World War II, he assembled and led The George
Balch Big Band. Playing for G.I.s and civilians alike, they were a
group of devoted musicians covering all the hits of the day, bringing great joy
to home-sick soldiers half way around the world.
When the war ended, he did not have the
money needed to transport all the instruments he owned back to the states, so he
regrettably left them in Japan. The "Big Band" no longer was his
to conduct, so he did the next best thing; he started a small "combo"
that were growing in popularity back in the states.
With his keen ear, musical background and uncanny ability to sight read
anything, he managed to play
all over the Detroit area with many of the legendary players of the day. With
the birth of his children, George began to spend less and less time in the music
scene. He would pick up the bass whenever he was needed for a hastily put
together show or party, but other callings in life soon absorbed most of his
No matter how long he went without playing, he could still pick up the bass and
feel at home with any seasoned musician. In the last years of his life, he
had the opportunity to play with the Shrine band, quite an honor for him.
On one occasion, they were to open for a big touring show band that plays many engagements
in the area. After hearing him play, he was asked to stay and join in with
their band! This was typical for George, he was welcomed where ever he
went. He never really needed talent, just his warm smile and charming persona.