In 1916 he started his career in earnest when he began working with the African Millionaires, a large carnival group consisting of about 25 members. He arrived in New York sometime around 1927, after working on cargo ships and travelling extensively. Not long after his arrival there, he began cutting records with local bands for Decca Records, notably Gerald Clark’s Night Owls. He released well over a hundred different 78s between 1928 and 1940, also under the names of Fredrick Wilmoth Hendricks (his given name), Edgar Leon Sinclair (the name on his US passport), and King Houdini. His 1939 composition “He Had It Coming” was a hit for Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald under the new title “Stone Cold Dead in the Market“.