Bob Stroger was born in the small town of Haiti in Southeastern Missouri, where he lived on a farm.  He moved to Chicago in 1955, living in the back of a nightclub on the West Side, where Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters played.

Seeing the fun they had performing, Stroger made up his mind to play music too.  Stroger learned his craft by watching his brother-in-law, Johnny Ferguson, play music with his band the Twisters, and by teaching himself at home.  He started a band with his cousin Ralph Ramey and his brother, John Stroger.  They were hired at a club where musicians like Memphis Slim worked.  The club owner wanted Stroger’s band to wear uniforms, but the players had no money to buy them, so they got black tams and put a red circle in the top and called the band the Red Tops.

Eager to travel, see the world, and make money doing so, Stroger left the Red Tops to join Joe Russel and the Blues Hustlers.  But it wasn’t until he started playing blues and R&B with Rufus Forman and Eddie King that his musical career took off.  The band, dubbed Eddie King and the King’s Men, stayed together for 15 years, split up, then formed again under the name Eddie King and Babee May and the Blues Machine. Later, after King moved on, Stroger quit playing for two years because he didn’t want to play with anyone else.  One night, Stroger was invited to play bass with Jessie Green, Morris Pejo and Otis Rush. He accepted, joined that band permanently, and the rest is history.