Born in 1921 in Newark, Ohio, young Jon and his fourteen siblings were moved many times, following their father's assignments as an A.M.E. pastor, before settling permanently in Toledo. As a teenager, Jon's first interest was in the drums, but before long he was singing on the radio regularly with another Toledo native, the extraordinary pianist Art Tatum. After serving in the Army during World War II, Jon went home to attend University of Toledo as a Pre-law major, courtesy of the G.I. Bill. Just when he was about to enter the graduate law program, the G.