Sammy Watkins was the leader of the Sammy Watkins Orchestra, popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Sammy continued to lead a band, based primarily in Cleveland, into the 1960s. The band's longest engagement was at Hotel Hollenden’s Vogue Room in Cleveland, Ohio.
During the early 1940s, a young man going by the name of Dino Martini was the band's male vocalist. At Watkins's urging, Martini dropped the ‘I’ in his stage name and subsequently became a star in the United States under his new stage name, Dean Martin.