Bob Havens was born in 1930 in Quincy, Illinois and received formal musical training on violin, piano, trombone, and composition. After serving in the Illinois National Guard as a bandsman during the Korean conflict, he left Quincy in 1955 to tour with the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra. In 1956 he joined the George Girrard Jazz Band in New Orleans at the Famous Door, but left the next year to become a member of the newly formed Al Hirt band which appeared at Dan’s Pier 600 on Bourbon Street.
During the time in New Orleans, he recorded albums for Good Times Jazz and Vic labels with the Girrard band, and on Verve and Audio Fidelity with Hirt. He also recorded about a dozen albums for the Southland label with many other New Orleans musicians.
In 1960, Bob joined the Lawrence Welk Orchestra as featured trombone soloist on his weekly TV show, an association that continued until Mr. Welk announced his retirement in 1982. During his lengthy TV career, Bob established himself as a jazz musician through his appearances at major jazz festivals, parties, and concerts. After 1982, he continued to be active as a free-lance professional working often with the Bob Crosby Bob Cats and the Benny Goodman Orchestra (led by clarinetist Peanuts Hucko).