Don Murray was born in Joliet, Illinois, and attended high school in Chicago. In his teens he made a name for himself as one of the best young jazz clarinetists and saxophonists in the city. In 1923 he recorded with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings; according to Rhythm Kings leader Paul Mares, Murray was not a regular member of the band, but was a friend who sometimes sat in with them. Murray also made early recordings with Muggsy Spanier. He then joined the Detroit, Michigan based band of Jean Goldkette, with whom he remained until 1927. It was here that he mentored the young Jimmy Dorsey. After a brief stint with Adrian Rollini's band Murray was hired by Ted Lewis. Ted Lewis said that Murray was the greatest clarinetist he ever had in his band-- high praise indeed since Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman had also been in Lewis's band. Murray can be seen and heard in the 1929 Ted Lewis film "Is Everybody Happy".
Don Murray died in 1929 at a Los Angeles hospital after injuries sustained in a freak automobile accident. Apparently, he was standing on the running board of a moving roadster and fell; he struck the back of his head on the pavement and was then hospitalized with serious head injury.